STEUBENVILLE — The frigid weather that arrived in the Tri-State Area Friday has taken a toll on the city’s water system.
And that led officials Tuesday to issue a city-wide conservation order.
According to Jim Jenkins, the city’s water superintendent, the flash freeze that saw temperatures drop from the 40s Friday morning to minus 4 that evening has led to numerous broken water lines and made it more difficult for the filtration plant to produce the treated water necessary to maintain adequate levels in the city’s three storage tanks.
“We have had breaks in a 16-inch line, a 12-inch line and three 6-inch lines since Friday,” Jenkins explained.
Problems with the lines have happened in many areas of the city, Jenkins added.
The 16-inch line that ruptured is located along Jefferson County Road 26, near the Wells Excavating complex and the end of Lovers Lane in the West End; the 12-inch line that suffered a break is located on the old city golf course property that is owned by the Franciscan University of Steubenville; and the 6-inch lines that were affected were on Bryden Road, Pico Street and North Forest Avenue.
“Those breaks have drained our storage tanks,” Jenkins said.
“They have been repaired, but we are still looking for more,” he added. “We believe there are additional breaks that have not yet been found.”
In addition to the line breaks, Jenkins said his department has received numerous calls about burst pipes inside homes across the city, which has helped to exacerbate the situation.
“All of that has complicated what we are dealing with,” he added.
The city’s water storage tanks are located at Eastern Gateway Community College in the West End; near the old golf course property at the university; and on Maryland Avenue.
While the conservation order is for the entire city, Jenkins said that as of Tuesday afternoon, none of the city’s critical business users, including Trinity Medical Center West, were in a dangerous situation.
“We’re pretty vigilant with the West End tank that feeds Trinity,” he said.
Replenishing those tanks can be stressful on the system, Jenkins said. He said that with diminished capacity at the plant, the city is not able to achieve normal run times on its pumps, adding that the continuous starts and stops could possibly lead to other line breaks.
Temperatures have been moderating since Sunday, with highs expected to reach the mid-50s by this weekend. That will make it easier for the plant to produce water, Jenkins said, but the thawing of the ground likely will lead to shifts that could cause additional breaks.
“That’s why we are asking residents who see leaking water in the streets or who live next to a house that is vacant to please check it and let us know if they hear water running,” Jenkins said.
All of those breaks coming in the midst of the bitter cold temperatures and during a holiday weekend have put a strain on the city’s workers, Jenkins said.
“Luckily,” he said, “the city has plenty of contractors we can turn to when our line crews are so extended. That’s a tremendous help.”
To report a broken line, call (740) 283-6041.