Niles neighbors question water department's response - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Niles neighbors question water department's response

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NILES, Ohio -

Neighbors in Niles want answers after it took the city water department more than five hours to respond to a water main break over the weekend.

The line on Roberts Street off of North Road was repaired Sunday morning after calls came in early on Saturday. 

One homeowner on that street says he's upset that there's still mud caked onto his drainage pipe and driveway. 

"I'm a retired person. I'm a senior citizen citizen, and I'm not really up to shoveling three or four inches of mud out of my driveway along the road," Niles resident Jim Plume said.

Plume believes his street has had about one water main break each year for the past five years. He questions why the city didn't have enough workers to respond to the emergency on Saturday.

One problem could be staffing levels.

"We only have six guys at the department right now, and we have two openings, one which we're going to be trying to fill probably the start of next week," said Kevin Robertson, the assistant supervisor of the city water department. 

Robertson says the department's recommended staff level for maximum capacity is about nine workers. 

He says union rules requires a minimum of three to four workers to be on site to make a repair. 

He said only two answered the weekend phone call, while they couldn't reach four others.

Mayor Steve Mientkiewcz says typically this is a "non-issue," and they have people readily available. He would have to look at a cost structure for an on-call crew, which might not be something the city can afford.

The city has seen 28 water main breaks this year, which we're told is an "average" amount so far this year.

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