Sunday, January 14, 2007

Water Truck Roll Over

When the roads get slippery with ice, vehicles start sliding. Even four-wheel drive won't help when you are going sideways; as my dad says, "four wheel drive is not four-wheel stop!" We drive on ice so much here that you get used to a sort of "loosy-goosy" feel with some slips here and there. The problem is when it is more than a little slip.

Cars that have plowed into a snowbank are a frequent site around Bethel. It is a minor inconvenience as long as no other vehicles are involved. Someone will pull you out, usually with minimal or no damage.

Sometimes, though, it is more than a little slip. A few weeks ago, a Ford Explorer went off the road and landed smack on top of the exposed water and sewer pipes. It caused a rupture in the line a short way away, and a major effort on the part of the Public Works employees to get everything contained quickly. Dutch's guys are a dedicated crew, and they don't stop until the job is done.

The mishap pictured here was a bit more involved. The water truck hit a patch of glare ice, slid sideways off the road and rolled on its side. The water trucks are huge; they carry 3500 gallons of water. They are custom built for us in the lower 48, and each one is valued at about $130,000. This one was half full when it rolled. The driver, fortunately unhurt, was able to crawl out of the truck and dump the load of water.

Getting the truck righted and back on the road required two loaders and a grader--the loaders to pull and the grader to hold the truck steady so it wouldn't roll again. Big machines; heavy chains; powerful forces. It took a dozen guys over an hour to get the truck back on its wheels.

The tank that holds the water was not damaged, but the undercarriage of the truck and some of the water-pumping machinery on the back was. About $10,000 worth in all. This truck will be off-duty for several weeks until it can all be fixed.

When all of them are running, Bethel has ten water trucks to deliver water six days per week to over 3,000 homes. At any given time, one or two are off-duty for routine maintenance. The unexpected loss of service from one of these hard-working behemoths makes a tight schedule even tighter. Somehow the water truck drivers will manage, and most folks in town won't even have a late delivery.

Photos by Dutch



Anonymous cush said...

At least no one was injured. How do Dutch and his crew keep the above ground pipes unfrozen? Is there a jacket surronding the pipe that carries hot water or steam?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 1:54:00 PM  
Blogger TheTundraPA said...

cush--the above-ground water and sewer pipes are bundled into an insulated sleeve along with a pipe that circulates heated glycol in a continuous loop. The constant shifting of the tundra means that this system requires constant attention, as frost heaving can disrupt the pipes and cause leaks. It is a high-maintenance operation; fortunately, Dutch has a good crew with dedicated foremen for both the piped water system and the hauled water system.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 10:10:00 AM  

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