Item Photo By OWEN O’ROURKE
Peter Turco, the working foreman at Lynn Water and Sewer, fixing a water main break at the corner of North Franklin Street and Lover’s Leap in Lynn.
By THOR JOURGENSEN
LYNN — Freezing weather was only one of Peter Turco’s problems Tuesday as he labored with Water and Sewer Commission coworkers to fix a Forest Street pipe break.
Bent over a six-by-six-foot hole with icy water gushing across their clothes, the crew worked around the iron remains of an old trolley track and rock ledge to locate the break. Turco planned to slap a rubber and sheet metal Band-Aid onto the pipe to stop water from pouring out of it but the smell of natural gas rising from the hole prompted an unanticipated call to utility workers.
“The whole thing is tough,” said the Water and Sewer working foreman.
Pipe breaks and working in winter weather is part of the job for Turco and novice Water and Sewer workers such as Mike Sherman, who started working for the commission last year.
Dressed in layers, including “base insulation” and a couple of shirts, Sherman said he prefers cold weather work to extreme heat.
“It’s fun. I complain more when it’s 100 degrees,” he said.
Sherman and coworkers Larry Marshall, Jared Thomas and Turco know winter weeks will include crisscrossing Lynn from one pipe break to another to make repairs. Turco said two or three repair jobs a day is not unusual: The pipe network underneath city streets dates back to the 1870s when he said the city initially invested in a water supply system to combat fires.
“The whole system is old,” he said.
He said repair crews initially try to “jump” a broken pipe and make repairs while water is still flowing through it. Shutting off water means businesses and homes go without water while work is underway.
“It’s better repairing it while water is running,” Turco said.
Water Superintendent Harold Samuelson said Monday’s cold snap triggered four pipe breaks with two others quick to follow. He said several of the breaks were “accidents waiting to happen.”
“It’s unusual we’re getting them — it hasn’t been cold,” he said.
He has a long winter ahead of him, but Turco said 18 years on the job has taught him how to weather the cold.
“You get soaked but you dress warm,” he said.
Thor Jourgensen can be reached at [email protected]