2/27/2014 4:46:00 PM Freeze-ups in water service lines not in any specific area
by DENISE MARTIN
Water service lines-- those pipes underground between structures and the municipal watermains beneath the streets, have been freezing. Due to types of soils and snow cover, the frostline and pipes are colliding into each other as a result of the year’s extreme temperatures allowing for deep penetration of frost. Also the quantity of water flowing through the service line, can have an impact on freezing. But, even the consistently flowing wastewater network in the Chisago Lakes area has had problems with the extreme cold. Mark Nelson, Chisago Lakes Joint Sewer Treatment plant supervisor, said two recent forcemain freeze-ups were “a surprise.” According to operations records, one pipe location did freeze 30 years ago, but ordinarily forcemains aren’t affected by frost. Olson Sewer steamed them open with special equipment.
Nelson also said that in a spot where there are seasonal residents on a line who are gone for winter-- a check valve was temporarily wired open to keep some water continuously moving in the pipe. The MN Rural Water Association has little advice for how to address freezing service lines except to recommend you run a continuous trickle of water from your faucet. Taylors Falls and North Branch municipal offices have been distributing information to residents telling them to consider keeping a pencil-sized stream of water flowing out of faucets. At this point in time, residents would be responsible to pay for any additional water consumption. No city councils have taken action to revise this. A Rural Water Association press release states, “This is uncharted territory for cities in Minnesota (who) will need to make a decision or policy on how to handle the water utility billing in these circumstances.” The cities are advising residents to also check the temperature of the water in their home or business taps, and if it is 40 degrees or colder to be aware a freeze-up could be imminent. Water temperature should be around 45 degrees entering your property.If you do experience a freeze, companies can help provide service line thawing, usually inserting a special tool that delivers hot water (steam) into the underground pipe.