Utilities Struggle to Keep Up With Frozen Water Lines

You may want to turn on your faucets to keep the water running because pipes are freezing across Mid-Michigan.

Duane Moser, an assistant research professor with Desert Research Institute, collects water samples from the Las Vegas Wash in Henderson, Nev., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Grab a five-gallon bucket of water and lug it inside the house to wherever its needed.

That's been the process for Dan Tatro since Friday, when his water went dry because of frozen pipes.

"It's been rough," he said. "We've melted snow in order to flush our toilets and we're taking showers at the in-laws."

Tatro isn't alone. His house is one of four in a row on Fleming St. in Jackson without water. Public Works Director Todd Kneppen says service lines leading up to about 40 homes in the city are frozen. It's the worst he's ever seen.

"Typically, we will see five to ten a year," he said. "40 or above is almost unheard of."

Since thawing just one line can take all day, Jackson is bringing in a private contractor to help. However, the city is only paying for thawing between the water-main and the shut-off valve. Anything beyond that will be paid for by the homeowner, about $400.

For Tatro and his neighbors, the money isn't the problem. It's the lack of communication and preparedness. Knepper says the answer is simple.

"We had the equipment. We were ready for what we typically see. It's hard, fiscally, to prepare for the absolute worst," said Knepper.

Lansing Board of Water and Light is also getting dozens of calls every day from people with frozen lines. The utility says it will respond to calls the day they get them.


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