A wide array of best management practices propel the Columbus water utility to customer service excellence and industry recognition.

It’s 4:30 p.m. downtown, rush hour just beginning, wind chill minus 30. The last thing a water utility needs now is a major line break.

Yet that’s exactly what happened last January in Columbus, Ohio. A 24-inch water main popped, flooding about 10 city blocks. Water poured into basements. Worse yet, a nearby hospital faced possible evacuation of patients and staff. “We had a river flowing four ways at once in downtown Columbus,” recalls Mike Spriggs, water maintenance coordinator. “The water turned to ice. Locators were freezing up.”

But it wasn’t the disaster it could have been. By 9 p.m., the Columbus crew had the valves located and the water shut off. The team stayed with the emergency all night and had the leak repaired and the water turned back on by morning. Most critically, although some elective surgeries were postponed, patient care at the hospital was not affected.

Check out the full story on Columbus here: www.wsomag.com/editorial/2014/06/doing_it_right1.