The frigid temperatures left Corbin and Williamsburg utility crews fighting multiple separate water line breaks within the last week.
Whitley County schools closed early Tuesday after service was lost at the main campus, leaving the high school, middle school, central primary and central intermediate schools without water.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison said that was just one area affected by what turned out to be three line breaks since January 3.
“It has been quicksand,” Harrison said of the effort to find and repair the leaks and refill the water tanks. “Anything that could have happened did, in the same span of time.
Harrison said that as of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the most recent leak off of U.S. 25W near Sunshine Valley had been repaired and the tanks were again filling.
However, Harrison said residents should continue to boil any water meant for human consumption for three minutes through Wednesday afternoon.
“We have to take samples of the water to run tests and it takes approximately 18 hours to get the results,” Harrison said in explaining the reason for the precaution.
Harrison said crews found and fixed the first two breaks, which had occurred on one of the main lines along north U.S. 25W late last week and by the weekend, water appeared to have been restored.
“When we got the two main lines fixed, water should have been coming back into the tanks,” Harrison explained adding that appeared to be happening until Monday night.
“The same thing started happening,” he said adding crews began searching after it was determined there was a third leak.
“We spent all day trying to find it,” Harrison said explaining the third leak was actually over a hillside, which made it more difficult to find that the previous leaks.
Harrison said that, unfortunately, it is something municipalities must deal with when extreme temperatures strike.
“We are getting ready to apply for funds to do some more valve work,” Harrison said explaining the work would permit the city to isolate areas to limit the number of residences affected by a line break.
Corbin City Utilities General Manager Ron Herd said each three seperate of the breaks have involved cast iron pipes in the area of Seventh Street, Barton Mill and Reasor and Parsons Street.
Approximately 50 residences were left without water at one point.
“We can close off nearby valves so they only affect a few residences,” Herd explained.
Herd said when cast iron pipes break, crews must put a sleeve over the break.
“These have been relatively small,” Herd said of the size of the leaks noting that they are typically reported when the water is seen running along the street or pooling in someone’s yard.
Herd gave credit to the crews who have battled through the weather to make the repairs.
“They have come in covered in ice,” Herd said of the crewmembers.
Herd said the boil water advisories that were issued are required whenever there is an interruption of water flow in a given area.
“If we turn the water off, we have to do the advisory,” Herd explained.
Herd said while Corbin Utilities is now using plastic pipes, which are not affected by the changes in temperature, the majority of pipes are cast iron.
“It would be nice to replace the cast iron, but it would be expensive,” Herd said.