Utility workers in the Twin Cities have had to put in a lot of cold hours to fix frozen water lines that have been cracked by the very cold temperatures that have taken up residency in the state.
The Twin Cities have experienced over 40 days of temperatures below zero and this has taken its toll on water systems. Bloomington, Eagan, New hope, Richfield, Anoka, and Plymouth are just some of the cities in the area that have seen their public works crews having to battle frost that has penetrated the ground deep enough to freeze service lines that are an inch thick. They have had to tear through streets to get to these pipes and some of the pipe s are 7 or 8 feet below the surface of the road.
On one sunny day in the middle of February, one public works employee endured -8 wind chills in order to get to an 8-inch wide pipe in Coon Rapids that needed to be patched.
In St. Louis Park, it was said that the city has seen more service lines freeze up than in the typical winter. This has resulted in the Suburban utility Superintendents Association website offering advice to homeowners and businesses about how to handle frozen lines that connect to the water mains throughout the city.
In Minneapolis, homeowners and businesses have had to deal with frozen water pipes. However, Minneapolis itself hasn’t experienced more frozen municipal pipes than usual. This is suspected to be the result of the city mains being buried 8 feet down.
In other places, such as Bloomington, it has been a very tough year for the city. Crews had to battle 10 broken mains and dozens of frozen service lines that were buried as deep as 7 feet. This is considered rather deep. It has been noted that frozen pipes tend to be found below bare streets and not under lawns that are covered with snow due to the fact that snow insulates. The issues that Bloomington is experiencing now haven’t been seen since the winter of 1977-78 when around 160 service lines were frozen and some of the water mains froze completely solid.
In Plymouth and New Hope, the issue they are contending with is the clay in the soil. Clay absorbs moisture and that can cause it to freeze solid around pipes. This can make a pipe snap and also make it difficult to get to the pipe.
Homeowners and businesses have been encouraged by the different municipalities to let one faucet leak. For those with burst pipes, residential and commercial burst pipe repair is recommended in order to rectify the problem as soon as possible. Leaks that are allowed to persist, especially when there are many at once, can cause there to be a strain on the local water supplies. A lot of water has already been lost due to crews having to work almost non-stop in recent weeks to battle the burst pipes so that life in these cities are not disrupted beyond the disruption that has already occurred because of the weather.