Like homeowners who have to turn off the lawn sprinklers, clear the flower patches and rake the fall leaves in preparation for winter, so do Provo and Orem city crews have to prepare a city for winter.
For maintenance crews in Provo and Orem, that could start as early as August, with most activities revving up in October.
The first priority for Dave Decker, director of public works for Provo, is the fall leaves. Leaves can easily clog curbs, gutters and streets around Provo and crews need to work ahead to clear the fallen foliage.
“Right now, we are in the process of cleaning out gutters,” Decker said. “We got paving projects getting done and most were out of the way last week.”
As for snow removal, Decker said they are in the midst of preparing for valley storms looming in the forecast.
Decker said crews are always ready when needed. Last Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was the first time in six years that crews did not have to go out and plow because of snowstorms. There are 16 main trucks, with eight routes, two trucks per route.
Provo also has a unique situation with the Provo Municipal Airport needs.
“We have a lot of equipment at the airport,” Decker said. “TAC Air, the fixed based operator, is in charge of de-icing planes, (but) we are in charge of snow removal at the airport.”
Decker said one of the trucks has a 24-foot wide blade for the wide runway.
The cost to keep snow removed, including salt and overtime wages for winter months, is about $100,000 in Provo according to Decker. Provo now uses carbide blades on its trucks, which will last through two winters. The old style blades could be replaced as much as four times per winter.
Doug Robins, assistant director of parks and recreation, said crews have been busy with their first priority of shutting down non-insulated park bathrooms up Provo Canyon.
“Our outdoor plumbing is number one,” Robins said. “Those freeze the earliest. We took care of those about two to three weeks earlier than others.”
Robins said the next thing crews must do is purge waterlines and add antifreeze to pipes and toilets, which is being done now. Insulated and heated bathrooms like Rock Canyon Park are kept open through the winter.
“Each year it’s a little different,” Robins said. “It takes two about weeks to shut down.”
The city has 54 park areas. Most should be closed within the next couple of weeks.
“The second priority is the irrigation systems,” Robins said. “That includes the splash pads and outside aquatics.”
Orem starts prepping for the winter season in August and September according to Cody Steggell, streets section manager.
“We have to start thinking about it in August,” Steggell said. “We have to make sure there is salt on site.”
Orem maintenance crews have had three street sweepers out every day during the fall as leaves are dropping and residents and homeowners rake leaves to make sure gutters and storm drains are cleared.
Public works crews are also getting maintenance done on city parks and making sure water is drained from pipes, drinking fountains and public restrooms.
With temperatures dropping below the freezing point this week the most immediate concern is burst pipes in parks and municipal areas.
Reed Price, maintenance division director, said he has been busy shutting down city amenities, like park bathrooms and water fountains, before that can happen.
“We have to shut down the bathrooms and put anti-freeze in the toilets so they don’t break during the winter,” Price said.
Price said portable toilets are placed at certain areas, particularly at the All-Together playground at the City Center Park, for winter use.
Orem has 3,000 tons of salt for the winter snow season. A typical season will take about 2,000 tons, which costs about $75,000.
Orem has more than 500 miles of roadway to plow. The city is divided in to areas where trucks equipped with a plow and salt spread can effectively provide snow removal.
Price said weather monitoring is done both online and with the help of local television forecasts. When a storm is in the forecast, preparations are made to make sure all equipment is ready for dispatch.
Throughout a storm event, observations of both satellite and radar loops from online resources are monitored to get a better indication of what is happening.