BPU declares water main emergency
Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) is declaring a water main emergency because of “unprecedented water line freeze ups” in the extreme cold.
During the water main emergency, residential customers are asked to run cold water at least a pencil-width size continuously from one sink until April 15 or until notified by BPU. This is especially important for customers who do not use a lot of water or live on dead-end streets, according to BPU. Water and sewer bill adjustments will be made during this time, using customers’ average water use for the months of November through January.
As of last week, Brainerd had at least 124 frozen water lines. The frost normally hits depths of 5 feet. This winter it has been in excees of 7 feet deep.
Trevor Walter, Baxter public works director, said so far Baxter had one water line freeze at Lakewood Church.
“We are not anticipating any emergencies, but I anticipate having a few more freeze-ups before it’s done,” Walter said.
As a city with more recent development, Baxter’s water lines are typically 8 feet to 9 feet deep. Walter said the recent two-day warm-up didn’t help as the frost typically goes deeper once the temperatures rise. Walter said it’s actually better if the temperatures goes one way or the other and stays there, than to move between extremes.
“This is definitely an abnormal winter,” Walter said.
Heavier clay soils are having more difficulties than the sandier soils, Walter said. Baxter takes care of the water service lines from the water main to the curb stop. It’s up to the property owners after that. Areas of difficulty are coming from the streets or driveways or paths, anywhere the insulating snow cover has been removed. Walter said he recently heard a residential sewer system froze two days after a homeowner cleared a trail for propane delivery.
Issues with frozen lines are widespread in the state, from the Twin Cities metro area to small rural cities. When Baxter contacted Eden Prairie to possibly use its jetting machine, which can stretch out to 200 feet, they were told Eden Prairie was too busy with its own residents to loan the Canadian-built machine out.
“It’s not unique to any city especially if they are in clay or in the heavier soils,” Walter said. “I’m crossing my fingers. Being out of water and sewer in your house or your business is one of the worst things that can happen.”
In Brainerd, if customers have no water they are advised to call the 24-hour emergency line at 829-2193. Baxter residents are also asked to contact city hall at 454-5100 if they experience problems.