A pinky finger-size hole in the Mayfield water tower left 40 homes without running water and will cost the village over $40,000 to repair, Mayor Jamie Ward said Monday afternoon.
“It’s not actually a big hole,” he said. “It’s running about half the stream of a garden hose.”
The hole, located on the very bottom of the 150,000 gallon water tower, though small, will take significantly more than the finger of a passing Dutch boy to plug.
Ward learned of the hole Friday and set about looking for a solution. Fixing a century-old water tower turned out to be pretty complicated.
“We’re draining it right now,” he said, “The hydrants behind the school are emptying out into the storm drains.”
Once the massive tank is drained, a crew of specialists on their way from Kentucky will scale the tower and rappel down 60 feet of rope from the rim to the bottom.
At this point, Ward isn’t sure what’s wrong with the tower. It could be as simple as a missing bolt worked free over decades of wind motion. But it could be more serious given the tower’s age. Ward said the tank is basically sound.
“I had divers in there a year ago,” he said. “They said it was solid.”
The Kentucky water tower specialists are charging $37,000 for the repairs — a price Ward is happy to pay. The village had $25,000 stored away for a mandated tank cleaning next year. The specialists are doing that cleaning during the repairs.
Village crews worked Monday morning to replace a shut-off valve below the tower to prevent contaminated water from repairs and cleaning from bleeding into the rest of the system.
“You have to remember, if the tower is that old, the valve is probably pretty old too,” he said.
Unfortunately for some, in order to replace the valve running water had to be shut off for about 40 homes, Pour Jim’s restaurant and the school building along North Main Street.
When the tower empties some time Tuesday morning, water will be switched back on. Village water is run on three wells with powerful alternating pumps. The tower only provides back up pressure in case of emergency.
Ward said that during the weeks of repairs residents shouldn’t even notice a decrease in pressure.
Excessive water use restrictions and a boil water order are currently in effect in the village.