Several communities urge running water to avoid frozen pipes

WAUKESHA (WITI) -- A half-dozen local water utilities are asking for help when it comes to preventing frozen and broken pipes and water mains. Officials are asking folks to keep the water running.

What officials are worried about are pipes called laterals. They help to connect your house to the water main -- and with the frost as deep as it is, officials are worried about laterals freezing.

Thus, several communities are asking residents to be sure to run their water to help avoid frozen pipes -- and expensive repairs.

"If they have to break open the street, that could be thousands of dollars," Dan Duchniak with the Waukesha Water Utility said.

If your lateral freezes, you could be without water for a couple of hours to a couple of days.

"We normally see one or two of these a year," Duchniak said.

But this year?

"We had between 40 to 50 calls in January and the first week in February we had 42 calls for frozen services," Duchniak said.

That's why communities like Waukesha are asking residents to run their faucets for five to six minutes at a time, five to six times a day. Pushing water through the system helps to keep the pipes from freezing.

"People need to use common sense. If there`s a lot of people in their house using water at that particular time, you don`t necessarily need to run it for five to six minutes at that time. However, if it`s a single person in a house or, you know, they`re not home a lot, then we`re going to need to turn that water over more often," Duchniak said.

In Waterford, they haven't had a problem with frozen water lines yet, but the water temperature and frost depth are making them nervous.

"We`re kind of toying with fate right now," Village of Waterford President Tom Roanhouse said.

That's why officials are asking residents to continuously run water through one faucet.

"Just a small thin steady line equal to the thickness of a pencil line in effect -- just enough to have continuous flow," Roanhouse said.

We're told complying with the request to run your water will cost less than $1 a day -- and just because we might be headed for warmer weather soon doesn't mean you should stop following this protocol.

With temperatures still near freezing and the frost so very deep, you should keep running your water until your community gives you the "all clear."

Other communities that have encouraged running water to prevent frozen pipes include: West Bend, Fond du Lac, Plymouth, Juneau and the Village of Waterford.