Frozen pipes a problem area wide

By Correne Martin and Audrey Posten

Extreme weather conditions and deeply driven frost have been wreaking havoc on water and sewer pipes in communities throughout the region for weeks now. With frost reported to be at least four and a half to five and a half feet deep in areas not covered by snow, these lines, especially those buried shallowly, are susceptible. Area public works employees are working around the clock to help residents unthaw services if they can. However, in some cases, in some communities, unfreezing the line might be impossible, leaving the owner stuck until the spring thaw.

The Courier Press has confirmed that residents in the communities of Prairie du Chien, Wauzeka, Gays Mills, Bloomington, Bagley, Monona and Guttenberg are being advised, until further notice, to run a continuous pencil-sized stream of water in their homes to prevent frozen laterals (pipes) to their homes.

As of press time Wednesday morning, the Courier Press had not been in touch with all of the communities within the coverage area with regard to frozen pipe issues. If your community is not among those mentioned above, there may still be recommendations on what you can do to avoid problems. Contact your village hall or local plumbing company for further direction or on-site assistance on this matter.

The Courier Press will continue to follow these issues and will report in the paper and on its Facebook page updates from communities.

In Prairie du Chien, a water running recommendation remains in effect until further notice and is voluntary. Credits will be given to residents who do this, if the proper paperwork is filed with the city.
According to the Gays Mills’ Facebook page, the village is asking residents to run a small amount of water continuously until further notice. Water fees will be adjusted.

In both Prairie du Chien and Gays Mills, bottled water is being provided to those who need it. Contact your village hall if you are in need.

The city of Monona is urging residents to vigilantly monitor the temperature of their water, and run it, if necessary, in order to prevent water service lines from freezing into residential homes. In Monona, PeopleService Operator Bob Penrod said the water samples he has taken have varied from location to location, ranging from 44 to 46 degrees in some areas, but from 43 to 44 degrees in others. If the temperature reaches 40 degrees or lower, Penrod said residents should run a steady pencil-sized stream of water if the temperature dips to 38 degrees. A stream smaller than that could risk freezing the sewer line.

The cities of Marquette and McGregor have not issued official notices regarding this issue; however, according to the North Iowa Times, it is recommended that residents follow the same guidelines.
Grant County Emergency Management Director Steve Braun said, while some communities are issuing public statements on these issues, most public works departments are contacting residents directly in problem areas of their communities (where pipes might be buried more shallowly) to provide them guidelines.

In Bagley, Village President Buck Schott said the community is asking residents to test their water temperature regularly by the simple process of filling a glass with water and putting a thermometer in it. If the water temperature is at or below 39 degrees, citizens are being encouraged to run their water a pencil-sized stream at night or when it’s not in regular use.

“We’ve seen some people with water at 31 degrees. Some have been 35 degrees,” Schott stated. “We will adjust their water bills. They just need to let the village hall or myself know if their running water.”
Crawford County Emergency Management Director Roger Martin wasn’t aware of any other communities issuing recommendations as of press time. He also noted that he hasn’t seen problems with frozen water pipes so widespread for many years.

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