Public works crews guard crucial infrastructure against intense heat

Middletown DPW workers are keeping especially close watch on the road and water systems during the heat.

Ben Nandy

Jul 9, 2024, 10:03 PM

Updated 6 days ago


Local public works crews are finding creative ways to protect crucial infrastructure during a stretch of intense heat.
Middletown DPW workers are keeping especially close watch on the road and water systems.
A pesky sinkhole reappeared on Myrtle Avenue just as this summer's second hot stretch began.
“That comes around a few times a year," said Myrtle Avenue resident Ronald Vargas. “They keep popping up. I’m just worried about the pipes and everything underneath, you know?”
The heat may have caused the pavement above a void to weaken, Middletown Public Works Commissioner Jacob Tawil said in an interview Tuesday.
He said the rain may erode soil underground and that any heat that follows may cause a void to open.
“When the asphalt is very hot, it loses its structural strength," Tawil said. "So it collapses.”
His public works team is also paying special attention to operations at the city's water treatment plant.
“It’s quite a bit of heat being generated by the controllers, the computers that run these UV units," he said of the plant's ultraviolet water treatment system.
The treatment removes bacteria and certain viruses from the drinking water.
In order to do that consistently, the control center must be kept cool at all times.
A skylight right above the equipment, though, has been allowing the hot sun to beat down on the equipment.
Staff at the treatment plant told Tawil they needed to find a solution soon to keep the control center functioning.
“So, the guys are complaining. ‘The AC is running. We can’t keep it [the temperature] down,'" he said. "So what we had to do was go cover it with a tarp, basically.”
Tawil said he is less concerned about infrastructure during the hot stretch as he is about his staff.
He says all the department's outdoor workers keep vehicles running with air-conditioning on as a quick, cool retreat to use as often as they need, regardless of how the breaks might affect productivity.

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