December 12, 2014
Recognition is due this week for many, many City employees, especially those in the Street Division, Electric Department, Fire Department and Police Department, for their outstanding response to the too-numerous-to-list problems throughout the City as a result of massive storm Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The biggest problems requiring City response were trees down in the streets and power outages caused by the wind and falling trees. While there was still much work to be done all streets had been opened and all power restored by yesterday afternoon. Both street sweepers began working by mid-morning while crews worked to clear debris that was too large for the sweepers. All in all, it was just a great team effort in the face of extraordinary circumstances. Click here for a small photo gallery of storm-related photos.
On Tuesday of this week, personnel from the Public Works Water Division flushed hydrants in the area around Ashland High School. It’s not uncommon for us to flush hydrants but it usually raises a lot of questions about why we’re doing it. In this particular case, we were flushing out mineral deposits that had been stirred up in one of the water mains while we tested a hydrant’s flow capacity for the Fire Department. On occasion the Fire Department will work with the Water Division to verify the water distribution system is capable of delivering the volume of water they would require in the event of a fire. To do this, personnel from the Water Division will connect test equipment to the hydrant and operate the hydrant as if it were being used during a fire. The pressure and volume of the water that’s released is then measured and recorded. This information is also used if a new building is being built or retrofitted with fire sprinklers.
When we test the hydrants, more water flows through the water mains than would at just about any other time. This extra flow can cause the water to be more turbulent than usual, which causes built up mineral deposits in the pipe to get mixed into the water making it appear dirty or discolored. These mineral deposits are harmless and usually go away in a short amount of time but in some cases we will continue to flush water through the hydrant to remove the discolored water. Mineral deposits build up over time and are normal in any water system.
We also have water mains in town that are considered “dead end mains.” These are water lines that are at the ends of the system. We are required to flush these annually to ensure the water quality in those lines meets the requirements of the Oregon Health Authority. People often ask why we have to flush these lines; water is consumed by people and therefore can be thought of as food, you wouldn’t want to drink milk that’s been sitting out for an extended period of time and water is the same. We flush the lines as often as is required to ensure the water delivered to water users in town is of the highest quality.
As pictured below, when we flush a hydrant, the water goes through a hose and a de-chlorination chamber before it’s allowed to be released into the storm drain system. Because the storm drains flow directly into the various creeks in town, we’re required to remove all chlorine in the water before it reaches the creeks.
Whenever possible, we try to perform the hydrant flushing when the amount of water coming into our reservoir is greater than the amount we’re using, as is currently the case. (We had 24 million gallons flow into the reservoir yesterday but City-wide use was 1.7 million gallons.) This summer, during the height of the drought, we did not flush any hydrants. The purpose of the flushing is to maintain a healthy, safe and effective distribution system.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday this week, personnel at the Water Treatment Plant found a bald eagle that appeared to be distressed. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife advised us to take the eagle to Wildlife Images in Grants Pass, if we could safely do so. The plant personnel then went back to the eagle and carefully put a towel over it and picked it up and put it in a box. Since the eagle did not resist this, we assume it was in poor health. It was then taken to Wildlife Images. We have not heard back from Wildlife Images, but we hope that the eagle can be nursed back to health and returned to the wild. It’s not uncommon to see wildlife in the watershed but this is the first time anyone here can remember coming in close contact with a bald eagle. Any other animal in this condition would probably be left to allow nature to take its course but something as rare as a bald eagle got our attention.
One of the runaway girls who have been in the news was found in California this week. She has been returned to her parents and the male adult she was traveling with has been arrested on several felony charges. The other runaway is still outstanding and believed to also be somewhere in California. APD will continue to work with California agencies to try to find her if we receive any actionable information. Her case presents more of a problem since she is already 17 years old. Even if she is found, it is unlikely that a California police department will hold her long enough for her parents to pick her up if she is not willing to wait for them to arrive.
The following was sent to APD by an Ashland resident. We are looking into who the officer involved in number 12 is.