Marlinton Mayor’s Corner

Marlinton Water Customers – by now you know the water service was temporarily shut off on Tuesday night until Wednesday morning, and you may be interested to know why this was necessary.

For about a week the Town had been flushing and testing fire hydrants. When Sam Dunn and Donald Sharp got to the hydrant at Third Avenue and Ninth Street, it was business as usual. As a matter of fact, they reported that hydrant “opened” easier than most. However, after the test and flow numbers had been recorded and it was time to close the hydrant, it would not close.

Once again, my mother was a Murphy – I am very familiar with Murphy’s Law. Which is to say, “whatever can go wrong will go wrong.”

This may be the best way to explain what happened.

Things going well. Blue sky. Feeling good. Then, everything goes sideways. Take a lesson. You are not the only one. Things happen. Then, sometimes it gets worse.

Business picks up quickly at this point. At approximately 600 gallons a minute, it does not take long to say uh-oh.

If you saw the pictures on Facebook, you know the intersection was instantly flooded. The men looked for the shut-off and remembered the shut-off valve was paved over – by the beautiful paving job that is now about six weeks old. The shut-off had not been uncovered.

They began to break up the new asphalt around the hydrant, to get to the valve that allows water to the hydrant. The valve (like most in Town) is umpteen years old, had seized in place, and would not shut off the flow of water.

I have not asked my men if they ever heard of “Red” Adair, the American oil well firefighter, who became famous in the highly specialized and hazardous profes- sion of capping oil well blowouts, or whether or not they used the same method.

Mainly, the process is to have a valve at the ready that attaches to the head of the broken fire hydrant, go to and open other nearby hydrants. This reduces the pressure and the flow enough for the valve to be attached to the faulty hydrant. After it is attached, with water flowing, the valve is closed. 

So, approximately 66,000 gallons of water and three soaked men later, the flow was stopped. At least, it was a 90 degree day.

Now, as this goes to print, the City is tasked with the replacement of said fire hydrant. Due to inoperative valves in closer proximity to the hydrant, and the inability to shut off a smaller section of Town, everyone in the Marlinton area and Campbelltown area will be affected.

Lakeview can be isolated with a valve at Thomastown. Edray, Old Campbelltown Road, Brush Country Back Mountain, and others past North Pump-station, should be without disruption. Going in, the actual duration of the shut-off is unknown and depends on the conditions encountered, when the party mix was opened.  Be certain, the work will be performed, with continued water service being restored as soon as possible.    

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. The whole intent of a night-time repair was to avoid as much disruption as possible.

Now… on to the next hydrant.

Sam Felton, Mayor
Town of Marlinton

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