On Sunday, an afternoon geyser hit a second time within a meter box located off Betty Jane Drive at Walker Lake. It had been three weeks earlier when a faulty line had burst at the same location. The first time, an eastern flow of water was so strong it sent rocks flying out like bullets, which broke windows on two separate vehicles owned by Jerry and Irene Bradford. This time, there was a problem with the new brass, four-inch compression cap fitting, which was under the meter box.
Bradford and another neighbor were examining the turn off area, when the fitting released and blew water full force into the men. There were no injuries, but once Mark Nixon, manager of the Walker Lake General Improvement District (GID) and Larry Grant from the Hawthorne Utilities Department arrived, they stressed the seriousness of the situation.
Nixon said that the power behind the initial blow out could’ve truly injured either of the men. There is a federal act in place, which prohibits the public from tampering with any meter box, which in this case was actually blamed upon a weakened fitting.
Nixon shared, “If you hear or see water leaks, or have any question or concern it is imperative that residents call the emergency number, at 775-945-2088. Every resident should keep that number handy, as the weather is changing and we are having a rash of water line issues, which seem to be related to recent earthquake movements. We don’t want anyone trying to fix a line themselves, as it is too risky for the public and we have trained experts that will arrive to properly handle all the turnoffs that are necessary.”
There was a large, six inch concrete main which broke Thursday morning, Oct. 22 that fortunately was turned off within a fair amount of time, since there were water employees already out at Walker Lake completing another line. By the time that line was turned off, an estimation of 80,000 gallons had already escaped and was eroding the street in a water route which threatened to flood the downstairs area of the Walker Lake Baptist Church. A member of the church happened to be there, so a call was quickly made, as the sound of rushing water became apparent and was seen flooding the church sidewalks. Nixon reported that the heavy pipe was in two pieces, as if the earth had moved, separating the pipe.
Grant advised that weather changes can stress out the pipes within homes and within the overall system, which is why a recent hydrant check was done. He went on to say that the GID is working hard to lessen the effects of shut downs, by fixing potential problems properly and maintaining a structure that can protect the ground water. Both Nixon and Grant are urging homeowners to understand that breaks will happen with any aging system, but nothing can be predicted.
Grant said, “We realize there are causes and effects with any leak, so water will emerge which causes these temporary messes. We apologize for these inconveniences and ask that the public bear with us. When you see a change in the water color, boil the cooking or drinking water until the lines clean out. This happens as we turn off and air out the lines, then a water turn on can push minerals and dirt back through the lines.”
Since there have been a few complaint calls come in, Grant wanted residents to understand that the flooding aspects can happen, but it is beyond human control. “The water run-outs are a result of these unforeseen situations. We will strive to fix these problems as quickly as possible, as we are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help.”