The Water Distribution Department is responsible for the installation and maintenance of water pipes running from the Water Treatment Plant on the south side of Van Wert up to the water meter within the front terrace of a residence. Water lines that run beyond the water meter into residences are privately owned.
The water distribution system starts with 14-inch and 16-inch lines that run from the treatment plant. A series of 12-inch to16-inch pipes that run between Washington and Jefferson Streets transfer water from the treatment plant to the north end water tower, which holds 500,000 gallons. A 16-inch pipe from the water tower connects to a 12-inch pipe that runs down Bonnewitz Avenue, then south to Eaton Corporation. The 12-inch main at Vision Industrial Park connects to this system. A 400,000 gallon water tower is located in the southwest section of Van Wert. Both towers aid in maintaining an average water pressure near 60 psi.
In the 1980s and 1990s, additional water mains were placed around the perimeter of the city to assist in maintaining adequate pressure to meet future needs. Perimeter lines include a 12-inch line running down Fox Road to a 10-inch line on Industrial Dive. The 12-inch line continues up South Shannon Street to Ervin Road. A 10-inch line runs north along the airport property, with the system later joining at West Main Street and connecting to the 12-inch line, described above. Another 12-inch line extends to the far southeast corner of Van Wert at Ervin and Jennings Road.
When responding to a call, crew members first turn off water main valves on each side of the water break. Maps, experience, and leak locator listening devices aid in determining where a leak is in relationship to where the water is surfacing. Some ruptures have been located as far as 60 feet from where the water has surfaced.
A hydro-hammer and backhoe are used to begin an actual dig. Water from the saturated soil fills in the hole as the dig progresses. At some point, a pump is used to remove the water. When the water line is reached, employees then use a hand shovel to dig around the pipe. Digs go on until the rupture is located. Many times a repair clamp can be used to patch the pipe. Other times a section of pipe may need to be replaced.
The head of this department is responsible for budgeting, project priority, and supervising. Additional duties include areas outside of water distribution, such as the actual digging on major city projects. This department head operates heavy equipment such as the track hoe when trench boxes are used for storm and sanitary sewer capital improvement projects. This department also has a backhoe operator who is an on-scene supervisor.
In addition to assisting on the repair of water breaks, meter readers collect usage data from residential water meters for the Water Office. At times they also provide leak inspections, using a listening device.