By Karen Cornelius
The Streets, Buildings, and Grounds Committee met on Monday night, January 8, and discussed a review of the city’s 2018 hydrant mapping/repair/replacement program. The city has 600 hydrants with 25 now out of service and 10 more ready to repair.
Streets chairman Frank Loucka asked service director Tony Valerius for a review, update on the status of the hydrants. He said he understands those painted in yellow are out of service. It was pointed out that working hydrants and hydrants close by to homes are important for insurance purposes. According to Valerius, the list of hydrants changes as they find different ones. He said winter, this weather, is a good time to repair these hydrants because they can work indoors. He said last year they re-built 15 hydrants in house. He said each new hydrant costs the city $3,200. Valerius said some hydrants will remain out of service due to their hookups to a four-inch line and some are even found in the woods. “We try to fix or replace as many as possible,” said Valerius. He said the fire chief also has the same list and they keep the fire department updated. There is a paper map and an electronic one which needs updated. New city engineer Chris Howard agreed to incorporate the city’s water mapping with the hydrants electronically.
Councilman John Gabriel said when they are flushing hydrants he would like to see the city give more advance information and specific streets so residents and businesses are prepared for the event and it doesn’t create rust if they have ongoing projects like filling a pool. He said sometimes this flushing catches people unaware. Councilwoman Barb Brady asked why 25 are out of service and if the problem was money or labor. Valerius said both are issues, but in VOL it’s the four-inch waterline which is no more useful than a garden hose. He said it would do nothing to replace the hydrants there because it is the main which would need replaced, not the hydrant. Valerius said now they are looking at two hydrants on Willow Lane to replace, but Ohio Edison has to come and hold the poles next to them. If they are replaced, there has to be a three-day boil alert and perhaps the shutdown of Willow Lane because it is so narrow. So replacement isn’t always simple.
Council-at-large Monica Stark asked fire chief Chris Stempowski if he were aware of the 25 out of service and if his department has enough water. The chief responded that they have plans in place to fight fires. They have 1,000 gallons in all their engines, 3,000 gallons in the tanker, and a foam system as well as having water shuttle and mutual aid. “We try to plan for everything.” He said they have also identified four locations to draft more water and have talked to private landowners. He agreed they can often face they unknown, but they have plans for most situations. The department knows not to stop at the yellow hydrants.