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Meet Rockville Employees: Water Distribution System Maintenance Team

Rockville Employees at the Water Distribution System Maintenance Team
The city’s water distribution maintenance team (L to R): William Hudgins, Steven Hernandez, Arthur Adams, Daryl Harper, Ovidio Cruz, Albert Budd, William Pritchard III, Ken Kiser and Anthony Stevenson. (Not pictured: Alfonso Alfaro, Jovan DeGroat, Kenny Hernandez, Mark Sanoir and Gerald Scott.)

Rockville’s water distribution system maintenance team is a diverse, motivated, hardworking team responsible for the upkeep of an extensive city water system that delivers safe, reliable, high-quality drinking water to residents. To get to know the team, we asked a few questions of Steve Sokol, operations and maintenance superintendent in the city’s Department of Public Works.

Who’s on the team?
The team is: Arthur Adams, Alfonso Alfaro, Albert Budd, Ovidio Cruz, Jovan DeGroat, Daryl Harper, Kenny Hernandez, Steven Hernandez, William Hudgins, Ken Kiser and William Pritchard III, Mark Sanoir, Gerald Scott and Anthony Stevenson.

It’s a group with a diversity of people and experience. Albert Budd started in 1967 and has worked the majority of the time since — close to 48 years — with the city. Others have less than a year’s experience and are learning from the veterans.

“We’ve got some really bright young people we’re bringing on, and have a lot of hope for the future,” Sokol said. “There are a lot of good, dedicated people and a mixture of some really experienced staff and some new staff who are learning.”

Tell us about the city’s water distribution system.
The City of Rockville provides water and sewer service to 70% of the city, or about 12,000 accounts. All other Rockville residents and businesses are serviced through the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. The city maintains 180 miles of water pipes, 4,168 valves and 1,363 fire hydrants. It’s paid for by city water utility customers.

What does the team do to maintain the system?
The team performs preventive maintenance to keep the city’s water system able to provide safe, reliable, high-quality drinking water and fire suppression. That includes unidirectional flushing to remove accumulated sediment from the system and improve water quality, valve maintenance to keep valves in good working order in case shutoffs are needed for repairs, and maintenance to ensure city fire hydrants have the water capacity and pressure necessary to fight fires. The team also responds to inquiries regarding water quality, inspects and maintains the city’s two water tanks, and repairs water mains, services and meters.

Rockville invests more than $1.5 million each year to replace water pipes that are 50 years or older, so that the city’s water system maintains adequate pressure for fire hydrants and continues delivering clean water to the community.

The city’s water main rehabilitation program was launched in 2008 to replace every mile of pipe in the city’s water system over a 100-year period. Since the Mayor and Council approved the program, city staff has replaced more than 22 miles of water mains, totaling nearly $30 million in construction.

With the help of the water distribution system maintenance team, the city marked a milestone last summer as it replaced Rockville’s last low-flow hydrant. Read all about it at RockvilleReports.com/lastlowflowhydrant.

Anything else to know?
“The team works real long hours, tirelessly, especially in winter when we have more water main breaks,” Sokol said. The team responds to an average of about 40 water main breaks a year and is especially busy from November to March, when the temperature changes and freezing can increase stress on pipes, making them more susceptible to breaks.

The team’s latest water main flushing schedule runs through early October. Find the schedule and learn more about the city’s water system at www.rockvillemd.gov/water.

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Rockville Reports is the official publication of the City of Rockville, published at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850-2364.