Lanesboro residents experience water troubles
Frozen pipes lead many to hope for early spring
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2:21 AM
As the weather continues to pound the area with arctic weather, issues are arising with freezing water mains and pipes in several areas of Fillmore County. A couple cities such as Harmony and Spring Valley have already dealt with breakages in their water mains. Lanesboro residents and businesses are facing frozen water pipes, resulting in no running water at several locations throughout the community.
The past several weeks have been full of unseasonably cold temperatures. According to Lanesboro City Administrator David Todd, there has been no day above the freezing temperature since mid-January. Unfortunately, he cannot say when a definite end to the frigid air will come.
"Rather than just a few days above the freezing mark, we need several weeks to assist in a complete thaw," Todd declared. "Still, there will be another problem developing when the weather warms. As it warms up, the frost in the pipes will travel down with the cold. This could drive the freezing even farther into the pipes," he continued.
Lanesboro has not had a water main freeze and break as of yet, like in Harmony and Spring Valley, but several pipes from the mains have frozen, depriving several residents of running water.
Todd stated, "We do not have any water mains frozen yet, and we cannot find out where the problems are without digging up the street and residents' yards since they are six feet underground. There is no easy fix to this issue."
Obviously, this would cause even greater problems and subject more people to the bitter cold. Instead, Todd advised the city residents to leave their water running to prevent freezing.
Nevertheless, some frozen water has been reported. Lanesboro resident Stela Burdt arrived at home on Sunday night after being gone over the weekend to find her water frozen. On Monday morning, she spoke to city hall to inform them of her predicament.
John Davis, executive director of the Lanesboro Art Center and a Lanesboro resident himself, experienced a similar situation. He discovered his pipes frozen on Saturday and spent Sunday with no water. Both Burdt and Davis received aid from the city Monday morning.
In order to restore water to the deprived homes, the city has bought many water hoses to bypass the frozen pipes by stringing the hoses from the home of a neighbor who still does have running water. For Burdt, this was the solution to her problem. On the other hand, Davis and the city workers thawed out the water in his pipes.
One might think the water within the hoses would freeze like the underground pipes since they are above ground. "I asked the workmen if I ought to put blankets over the hose, thinking it might freeze," Burdt stated. "They said as long as I keep the water running, it will not freeze. If I turn the water off, the hose will freeze very quickly."
So far, the hose has resolved the issue and provides water throughout the house. "It is hard to let the water stay on all the time because so many places do not have water at all. But leaving it on is better than having no water at all," Burdt said.
Todd described the situation as a frustrating and unpredictable situation. "We know it is frustrating for residents to be living without water, but it is good to be working with these people. We get calls every hour of people wanting updates on the problem. We can communicate with them in that way, as well as through our website and cable station."
Since the citizens leave their water on to help prevent even more problems with a breakage on the city's advice, their bills will be adjusted based upon the average amount of water used during this period. How long the water must be left running is unknown, but Todd said to leave it running until Lanesboro Public Utilities gives the red light.
As inconvenient as this issue might be, the residents are quite a resilient people, according to Davis. "This minor inconvenience seems to band the people of our small community closer together. Everyone helps each other through this situation," he said.
Both Davis and Burdt expressed great appreciation for the city. "I am very impressed with the city and how quickly they have fixed the problem. I called them in the morning on Monday and by 10:45 a.m., the city workmen had my problem resolved," Burdt said.
For Davis, the city arranged a time for him to be home from work so he would be there as they thawed his water pipes. "The city is bending over backwards and doing extraordinary work to help the residents. I appreciate the city and the great job they are doing to reach the community members to resolve the issue together," he said.
Appreciation is by no means limited to the residents. Todd also thanked the community for its support. "We appreciate the residents' patience with us during this situation," he concluded. "We will do everything we can to fix the problem as best we can and hope for an early spring this year."