Hydrant maintenance begins in Southwick

Rick Mannion, a seasonal employee for of the Southwick Department of Public Works, paints a fire hydrant along College Highway in Southwick yesterday. (Photo by The Westfield News/Frederick Gore)

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Department of Public Works (DPW) began hydrant maintenance this week, with plans to reach every one of the town’s 340 hydrants over time.

DPW Director Randy Brown said water department employees will be painting the hydrants and adding a grease lubricant to the inside of the hydrant caps for easier removal in an emergency.

“We are also installing hydrant markers to make them easier to see when it snows,” said Brown.

Brown said it could take a while to get to every hydrant on the town’s 50 miles of water pipes, adding that he does not think they have ever been painted before.

“They’re a standard yellow and the paint is suitable for being exposed to weather conditions,” said Brown.

The DPW’s water department employees will also begin reading water meters next Tuesday. Brown said they will be going into yards to read meters and will be wearing town shirts and driving town vehicles.

“This should take about six weeks,” he said.

Right now it is a time-consuming task for all three water employees to read meters. Brown said he hopes to begin replacing the traditional meters with smart meters soon.

“I am hoping to make smart meters a priority in the budget for 2016,” he said.

Making the switch would include an initial cost, but would save in labor costs over time.

“There are drive-by options and radio technology,” said Brown, “I have to do the research to see what would be best for Southwick.”
A radio meter would not require an employee to travel to read meters, but the meter would send the reading to a computer. The drive-by option would require an employee to still go out to every home but the employee could literally drive by the meter and get the reading without leaving the vehicle.

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