Water hoses stretched from home to home are a day-to-day reality for some Van Wert County residents. (Delphos Herald/Stephanie Groves)
Water hoses stretched from home to home are a day-to-day reality for some Van Wert County residents. (Delphos Herald/Stephanie Groves)

VAN WERT —Winter weather has taken its toll on water lines all around the area. Although Van Wert has cleared up all the issues reported, several issues in Delphos remain.

According to Van Wert Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming there have been plenty for crews to do lately.

“We have had a total of 84 frozen water services, which includes 49 which were frozen from the meter to the main which we call ‘our’ frozen lines. The 35 other ones were frozen between the meter and the house, so obviously those were ‘their’ problem,” he shared. “All 49 of our problems have been taken care of. We either used a welder to thaw them or the guys fabricated a steam cleaner/power washer unit and literally put a little quarter-inch tubing on it so we could run high-pressure hot water through the service lines and get them unfrozen.”

A handful of Delphos residents are still without city water service to their homes, some since Jan. 30. Four of the families may not see their water restored until spring.

Homes with frozen lines include: 632 E. Fifth St.; 703 E. Fifth St.; 705 E. Fifth St.; and 615 E. Fifth St., all of whom were hooked up with hoses from neighbors on Jan. 30; 527 Lima Avenue, hooked up with a hose on Feb. 13; 733 Suthoff and 727 Euclid St., hooked up with hoses on Jan. 14; and 505 Lima Avenue and 811 Clime St., hooked up with hoses on Feb. 18.

Homes at 231 N. Bredeick and 615 W. Fourth St. have had regular water service restored.

The city water lines from the main to the meter or valve have frozen.

“The frost line went deeper this year due to the extreme cold temperatures and the lines froze,” Interim Safety Service Director Sherryl George said.”The four customers on East Fifth Street with frozen lines may have to wait a while. We will have to bring in some heavy equipment and shut down the street to fix those. It will be tough to shut down one of the city’s main thoroughfares.”

Van Wert did have a few problems that couldn’t be solved easily.

Fleming reported, “We had a couple of places that were frozen and we couldn’t get through them with that little tool we built, so that line either kinked or something because what they devised to get those thawed cuts through like butter. There’s something physical under the road that won’t let them pass through it so we can’t get it open, so we jumped a couple of houses together so they could have water.”

In Delphos, the Schoskers on Suthoff Street may not be happy about their frozen pipes but said the city has been very attentive.

“We had city workers here within a few hours of us losing our water,” Carla Schosker said. “They were here and inspected everything and had the water going but it refroze. We weren’t aware you needed to let the water run. That’s the only thing that could have helped us. The city could do a better job about getting the word out on that.”

Delphos Water Superintendent Tim Williams said all the homes do have water with the degree of use varying.

“Some have enough pressure to run the household and others only have enough to take care of the essentials,” Williams said. “It’s been tough to get a schedule together to get these issues resolved because the city doesn’t have the equipment to dig up the frozen ground and the people you call to help are busy because everyone’s having issues this winter.”

The city and the outside companies providing service need to be available at the same time. Furloughs and reduction of employees through attrition have left the city lacking manpower and hours to tackle all of this winter’s woes. City crews have dealt with the residential water problems, record snowfall and an unusually high number of water main breaks in the past six to eight weeks.

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, garden hoses are very unsanitary because dirt, debris and insects can get into them and the hoses and fittings are made of materials that can leach harmful chemicals into the water. This includes lead and a variety of chemicals used in plastics. The plastics most hoses are made from are not approved for conveying drinking water.

If people still insist on using hoses for water they intend to consume or bath with, they need to first boil the water. Water from hoses is OK to use for flushing toilets.

The city is providing bottled water for drinking and dental hygiene.

As for Van Wert, Fleming is glad to have the city’s obligations fulfilled.

“I can’t commend the guys enough,” he said. “They have been working hard. And there were 49 that we worked on, but there were still 84 investigations because we had to go dig all these people up to see what side the problem was on, and they had to move the snow and find the meter. And we’ve also had more than 17 water main breaks since January. As for the 35 people… we don’t have a count. We just know that they have called in and told us they didn’t have water, and we went out to confirm if it was us or them. I’m sure many of those 35 have used a plumber and gotten themselves unfrozen, but they don’t come back and report that to us. But we’ve taken care of those who were frozen on our side.