Bitter cold causes water woes - News, Weather & Sports

Bitter cold causes water woes

Steve Purlee Steve Purlee
Salem Mayor David Bower Salem Mayor David Bower
An East Washington water pumping station An East Washington water pumping station
The hole Purlee dug to repair his broken water line. The hole Purlee dug to repair his broken water line.

SALEM, IN (WAVE) – This week's deep freeze created water problems across WAVE Country. In Owen County, Kentucky, 2,000 people are without water. Another county in our viewing area, Washington County, Indiana, is asking people to conserve so they don't have the same problem. 

This week's flash freeze and thaw have added to Steve Purlee's farm chores. 

"They've told us if we see any leaks up and down the road, be sure to call ‘em in," said Purlee. "Let all the neighbors know to conserve water, do what we can." 

"Am I tired of it?" Salem Mayor David Bower asked. "Is (sic) the citizens tired of it? Certainly."

Bower said no one is surprised that pump stations have been overworked all over Washington County.

"A lot of people in our community, in East Washington and in Pekin, turned their water on to keep it from freezing," said Bower.

"It had run most of the day yesterday," Purlee said. "I did shut it off last night."

"When you turn those faucets on and leave ‘em on for eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours, it's certainly gonna tax that system," Mayor Bower explained.

The weather has taxed livelihoods too.

"We don't have much windbreak here; it was brutal, brutal on everybody and everything," Purlee said. "That Sunday we had that real, cold wet rain and it had all the hair coats on all the cattle soaked."

All 250 heifers and calves survived. Purlee also raises about 64,000 chickens on contract to Tyson Foods. His operation and other poultry operations have secure water supplies.  

"But I have a leak between my house and my barn," Purlee said. "I gotta dig it up today."

Purlee may be one of the unfortunate few.

"We have no major leak at this point that we can detect," Mayor Bower said. "That does not mean that there's not one and we haven't found it yet." 

The bottom line: Washington County should be okay, if customers continue to use water sparingly this weekend. 

Purlee escaped with sweat equity.  

"All it was 79 cents to cap it (the water line) off, not bad at all," said Purlee. "I'll have it back on before she (his wife) comes home from work. Be good to go."

Salem supplies water to more than 9,000 homes and businesses in Washington County. Crews say that voluntary conservation (you'll still have enough to drink, flush and cook) should have things back to normal by Monday.  

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