October 17, 2018
By Marlana Ward
During the October meeting of the Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Alderman Kenny Icenhour took the opportunity to bring forth a concern he had received from a customer of the town’s water department. Icenhour presented that a gentleman had contacted him and told him that recently when his wife went to get a glass of water from her tap, the glass was knocked out of her hand by the burst of air that came unexpectedly from the faucet.
It was reported that the water department had responded to the situation and that a recent treatment plant backwash was the primary cause of the incident. In a later interview, City Water Collection and Distribution Superintendent Chris Hook explained further: “A fall in water pressure then it’s return was at the core of this problem. We believe that a check valve had failed. The valve has been replaced, and we are waiting to see if this has remedied the problem.”
Hook also shared about the different types of pressure related calls his department gets from customers across the county. “There are around three to four pressure calls a week. These are indicators of problems in the system and important to our operation. If there is a sudden drop, we need to look for a leak or the cause of this sudden high demand in the area. If they experience an increase in pressure, there is most likely a pressure reducing valve not functioning correctly.”
A pressure reducing valve or PRV is a device that is installed directly after water meters and is responsible for the reduction of pressure from the main water line into a residential or commercial line. “Unless there has been a main line break or a pump house has gone down, pressure problems tend to be on an individual level,” Hook explained. “These are most often one of two problems, low pressure caused by a leak or a closed PRV. A PRV can open up when it fails and send full line pressure to the house at which time we can get a call of to much pressure.”
“The most common complaint with new construction is about too much pressure,” added Hook. “With that, it leads to the question of PRV types and where to get them. The complaints about low pressure on an existing line, again, are an indicator of a problem and we address those immediately.”
Low-pressure problems had been discussed at previous council meetings especially amongst residents in the Doe Valley area. “The city just recently put a new pumphouse on Pedro Shoun Lane to remedy a low-
pressure problem,” Hook stated.
Hook also expressed how homeowners can look to increase pressure to their homes if the issue lies between their home and the main water line: “If they would like to increase the pressure, they can purchase a booster pump. The high-pressure issue then returns to the PRV and its functionality.”
The topographical challenges of providing water to an area as diverse as Johnson County is also a cause of some common water pressure problems. “We are blessed to live in such a beautiful area, but these mountains bring the unique challenge of high-pressure valleys and low-pressure peaks,” expressed Hook.
When a water customer has an issue with service, the water department keeps staff on call to respond to concerns. “The Water Department always has people on-call,” Hook said. “When we get calls of water loss we respond immediately. Of course in the middle of the night, our operators are asleep so there is a delay as they get ready and mobilize but they check into it day or night.”