Fond du Lac residents asked to run water to keep pipes in service

FOND DU LAC (WITI) -- Officials in the City of Fond du Lac are asking residents to take precautions in order to keep water lines from freezing.

Residents are asked to run their water for five minutes, at least three times per day in an effort to keep water service lines from freezing.

"The situation has just gotten much worse with pipes freezing up in the ground, water pipes, both mains with in the middle of the street, but also services that go to people's homes," Director of Public Works Jordan Skiff said.

If a customer notices a significant drop in pressure, officials say they should let it run the five minutes, then slow to a trickle for extended period – particularly overnight.

This is especially important for customers who typically don’t use much water, and for residents of dead-end streets where there is limited water movement.

"Usually it's because the pipes aren't as deep as other homes might be, so if that frost is getting down to five feet and your water services are in that range then it's surrounded by frozen soil and it's more susceptible to freezing," Skiff said.

Officials say the potential for underground pipes to freeze is extremely high with frost near record depths. There have been nearly two dozen frozen services since the beginning of the month, and the city has an ongoing list of customers without water.

Resources to thaw underground lines are limited and restoring service could take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, according to officials.

"It's been really challenging. We've got a crew of only about three or four people who typically do this along with some contracted help to thaw out frozen services between the water main and the street and then the person's house," Skiff said.

Mand Plumbing has been operating since 2002, and company officials say this has been its busiest winter.

"This winter has been pretty crazy. We've been out every day and every night with everything from a frozen roof drain to a frozen sewer to frozen water laterals," owner Josh Mand said.

Mand says he recommends running the water throughout the day.

"Moving water doesn't freeze. Standing water will," Mand said.

City officials say letters were sent to the more susceptible customers who should be running their water at a trickle 24/7. The city will reimburse those customers. They say the cost to run water three times a day for five minutes each time will only add up to a few cents for other customers.