Louisville Water Company offers underground view of city's 'life - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Water Company offers underground view of city's 'lifeline'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville consumes 121 million gallons of drinking water daily. If you're like most customers, you probably don't know how all that water ultimately makes it to your faucet, according to a Louisville Water Company spokesperson. That's because the mode of transportation isn't visible, until now.

Water's pumped from the Ohio River and goes through the Crescent Hill reservoir to be treated.

"We have to get it to your house and that's the part that most people never really see," Kelley Dearing Smith said, Communications Director of Louisville Water Company.

The water travels through underground pipes. "That pipe is making it possible for you to take a shower, to make coffee in the morning, for a restaurant to open, for businesses to operate, It even makes it possible for us to make Louisville Slugger bats in Louisville or Ford Explorers. So, we're really a lifeline to the city," Dearing Smith said.

The lifeline is nearly 4,200 miles, enough to stretch to Disney World and back three times. "So, we've almost created our only little highway system. People have no idea what's underground, I had no idea what's underground until I came to the Louisville water company."

Crews work full-time in the underground world, inspecting, replacing, repairing and inspecting again pipes of all sizes. Newer equipment, like robotic technology makes finding problems easier. "If this pipe breaks, it can be catastrophic. Millions of gallons of water come into the street, there's a flood, there's damage, people are with out water perhaps or we have an impact for months. So, our goal is to get these before they happen."

It takes a unique person to work on a job site like this. "First of all, you have to face the traffic, you have to be willing to get a little dirty, and you really cannot be afraid of closed spaces."

Workers are crawling inside the pipes themselves. "It changes day to day, you never know what you'll find in the ground, what types of problems you'll get to solve during the day," Jesse Davidson said, Construction Inspector of Louisville Water Company.

The team was doing repair work on Mellwood and Frankfort Avenue. "This pipe is a cast iron pipe, so it's almost 150 years old and what we're doing is we're cleaning the pipe and we're lining it, really trying to give it another 50 to 70 years worth of life," Dearing Smith said.

The goal is to get through half of the larger pipes by 2019. "So, by doing this work now, hopefully we minimize the problem so that there's not a large community impact."

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