Danville officials protect pipes as cold returns
DANVILLE – The recent unseasonably cold temperatures prompted city officials to heat up the water pipes at the city's parks and pool.
"We really had to do a lot of scrambling this weekend," said Steve Lane, parks and public property superintendent.
For the past few weeks, employees have been turning back on the water at the city's parks to gear up for the spring and summer weather. The properties are winterized in the fall, when the water is shut off and an air compressor is used to blow out the lines.
There are a dozen parks throughout the city. During last month's warmer temperatures, Lane received phone calls from local residents asking when the water would be restored to the AMBUCS Playground for Everyone.
Typically, employees begin to turn the water on around the first week of April. This year, they began around March 20.
"It takes a couple of weeks to get everything on," Lane said.
But the warm spell didn't last long.
The National Weather Service predicted temperatures in the 30s and 40s last week, with the lows hovering in the 20s. During the same time last year, temperatures ranged between 52 degrees and 75 degrees, with lows between 33 degrees and 52 degrees.
With freezing temperatures in the forecast, city officials installed electrical heaters to warm water pipes in the parks that had water turned on. Where possible, water was allowed to run through the pipes to prevent freezing, Lane said.
Kerosene heaters were set up at unheated bathrooms in Danville Stadium and at the city pool, which had water in it due to maintenance work under way, Lane said.
The kerosene, at $3 a gallon, cost the city more than $300. An employee also kept watch on the heaters throughout the night, filling them when necessary, he said.
The actions were necessary to stop the freezing temperatures from damaging water pipes – and a $700 valve that prevents water from going back into the city's water system.
"This is really the first time we've been caught like this," Lane said.
Jeanie Cooke, Danville Stadium vice president, said that staff also kept a watch on the kerosene heaters at the stadium. The stadium opened in March for use by local school teams.
"We've never had an April this cold," Cooke said.
Brock Burton, superintendent of Harrison Park Golf Course, said the course's water system has been on for a couple of weeks. He said he let some water drip through a water pipe that runs under a bridge to prevent freezing.
"It hasn't busted on us yet," Burton said. "So far."
Lane planned to run the heaters at the stadium and pool again Monday night.
"We've had to do a lot of preparing," Lane said. "We've just had to pull out the stops and try and save our system."
This week, temperatures are expected to rise to the 50s.