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Hauling water at 30 and 40 below is not fun

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Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 5:17 pm | Updated: 2:01 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

So I pull up to the Metro Water shack on the Old Steese Highway to get a couple jugs of water the other night at 20 below and there’s a guy with his pickup backed up to one of the pumping stations with a water tank in the back of his covered truck.

As I’m trying to get my pumping station to accept my quarter, which it wouldn’t, I notice the guy pull a small propane bottle and weed burner out of the  back his truck. My first thought was that he must be working on a broken pump and needed to thaw something out.

I watched as he pulled a short, heavy piece of steel out of his truck and dropped it on the ground. It looked like a two-foot long piece of railroad track. Then the guy fires up the weed burner and lays it on the ground, pointed directly at the piece of steel a few inches away. 

Seeing that he didn’t seem to be in a hurry, I asked, “Is that pump working?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“Do you mind if I fill up a couple jugs real quick?” I asked. “This pump won’t take my quarter.”

“Go ahead,” the man replied.

As I was filling up my jugs, I couldn’t help but ask, “What’s with the weed burner?”

“I live quite a ways out of town so I heat this up and wrap it in a blanket and then wrap another blanket around it and the valve on my tank so it doesn’t freeze before I get home and I can drain the water,” he replied.

“That’s a great idea,” I said.

“Water’s pretty important,” he replied matter of factly.

While we have a well at home and I only have to haul a few jugs of drinking water every few days, I can appreciate what people who haul major quantities of water go through during cold snaps and was impressed with this guy’s ingenuity.

Actually, now that I think about it, the people who are hauling jugs of water like me probably have it harder than people hauling tanks in the back of their trucks. While they can stick the hose in their tank and climb back into their warm trucks until the tank is filled, we have to stand out in the cold and get sprayed with water while filling our jugs because the hose nozzles always seem to be just a little too big for the opening on the jugs. Then we have to load into the back of our car, van, truck without slipping on the ice.

Either way, hauling water at 30 and 40 below is not fun.

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