Terry Bigalk, a Harmony public works employee, studies the water main that needed to be shut off last Monday, Feb. 10, follwing a water main break at the intersection of Center Street West and First Avenue Southwest, flooding the street behind the Fillmore Central High School. MELISSA VANDER PLAS/NEWS-RECORD
Terry Bigalk, a Harmony public works employee, studies the water main that needed to be shut off last Monday, Feb. 10, follwing a water main break at the intersection of Center Street West and First Avenue Southwest, flooding the street behind the Fillmore Central High School. MELISSA VANDER PLAS/NEWS-RECORD
Held the day following a water main break, the Harmony City Council discussed several issues regarding the impact of cold weather on the city's water pipes.

City Administrator Jerome Illg told the council several residents had called the city offices to ask if they should be running a faucet on a continuous small stream to prevent their water pipes from freezing. While other cities in the area were recommending that practice, and offsetting some of the costs associated with the additional water usage, Illg asked the council if it wanted to go in that direction as well.

Because of the recent water main break, the council was sensitive to the issue, but Chris Johnson, from the city maintenance crew, noted that having water running in residences would not have prevented the water main from breaking.

He explained the frost level was deeper than most years and the ground shifted, causing a "fracture" in the pipe. The pipe, Johnson said, is a four-inch, cast-iron pipe.

"We had to dig through four-and-a-half feet of frost to get to the pipe," Johnson said, adding it took them all of Monday morning to get the break isolated.

He thanked Fillmore County and Al Torgerson for stepping in with equipment to help fix the problem.

City crews suspected a break had occurred sometime over the weekend because the water usage levels had increased considerably. It wasn't discovered until Monday when the water surfaced at the intersection of Center and First Avenue Southwest, running down the street toward the Fillmore Central High School.

Johnson told the council that a mini-steamer could have helped warm the ground and improve the conditions needed to fix the break. He gained permission from the council to purchase or create a steamer for future situations.

Returning to the issue regarding the prevention of frozen pipes, Jim Bakken noted that running a small, steady stream of water would result in a $15 increase to a water bill.

It was also noted that residents can monitor the temperature of their cold water, which could indicate a problem. To check the water, one should run the cold water faucet for a minute or so before taking the temperature. If it is below 40-degrees, there may be some cause for concern.

The city council felt it would be "opening a can of worms" to offset individual water bills for this measure. It was determined that if homeowners feel the need to run a faucet, they will incur the costs associated with that.

Look for more information from the city council meeting in next weeks' News-Record.