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Water utility has been busy thawing frozen pipes

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News River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Hudson Water Utility workers have been busy thawing as many as six to eight water lines a day because of the unusually cold winter and deep frost.

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Almost all of the freeze-ups have occurred in the service lines extending to homes from water mains beneath street right-of-ways.

Utility workers use welding equipment on the back of a truck to electrify the copper pipes and melt the frozen water.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Hudson City Council, Mayor Alan Burchill read a message from Water Utility Director Tim Caruso explaining why the utility hasn’t asked all homeowners to continuously run water to prevent freeze-ups.

Numerous communities in the region have asked all of their utility customers to keep a faucet on.

Caruso said the treatment plant serving Hudson and the village of North Hudson has the capacity to treat 2.8 million gallons of wastewater a day. It currently treats about 1.5 million gallons per day.

If the utility’s more than 6,000 domestic customers were to run a pencil-size stream of water needed to prevent freeze-ups, it would add 2.4 million gallons of water a day to the system, surpassing the treatment plant’s capacity.

Also, Caruso said he had been advised by Wastewater Director Jim Schreiber that adding a large quantity of clean water to the wastewater stream would jeopardize the bacteria needed to eat the waste. The bacteria are already stressed by the cold weather, Caruso said, and weakening it further could cause the plant to exceed the allowable limits for contaminants.

He said Schreiber told him it could take months to rebuild the bacteria to the needed level.

The Water Utility is directing customers to run water if they have had a service line freeze or their property has a history frozen lines.

In a phone conversation last week, Caruso said the frost is as deep as eight feet beneath uncovered streets and sidewalks. Water mains and service lines are supposed to be at least eight feet deep, but the frost is reaching them in some places.

In a letter to water customers advised to keep their water running, Caruso says the deep frost will continue until the weather warms up for an extended period – possibly into April.

“We have had a number of property owners who thought a few warm days meant they could shut the water off, as a result, their service line froze,” Caruso wrote. “Don’t let this happen to you! The frost will be deep in the ground for a long time yet. We will let you know when it’s safe to shut it off.”

Caruso said property owners who receive a letter from the city directing them to keep their water running will receive an adjustment on their quarterly water bill.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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