Frozen Water Service Information
The 2013 to 2014 winter season provided extremely cold conditions which drove the frost to depths that haven’t been seen in the last twenty years. Many water services froze, causing property owners to deal with the situation. The City has approximately 102 miles of public water distribution mains, 976 fire hydrants and 6200 services within its water distribution system.
Frozen Water Policy
The City adopted a Frozen Water Service Policy that takes into consideration public safety, the City’s budget and personnel, environmental concerns, and the cost of implementation versus the benefit to be achieved. The policy was also developed based on past practice. Procedures identified in the policy are intended to maintain the City’s water distribution system, to prevent freeze-ups, extend the life of the system, identify responsibility for thawing frozen main and services, and for the cost of any repairs resulting from thawing.
Chapter 3 of the City Code states: “All persons taking the water shall keep their own service pipes, service corporations, stopcocks or curb stops and apparatus in good repair and protected from frost, at their own risk and expense. All water taken or used from the City water system, unless otherwise ordered by the City Council, must be metered and paid for, except water used in putting out a fire.”
Frozen Water Service Areas
The City identified areas with a known history of frozen water services and is identified in the City Asset Management System. Recommendations and preventative measures from the Minnesota Rural Water Association to help prevent freezing have been outlined in the policy, along with potential costs associated with each scenario.
All costs associated with the preventative measures will at the property owner’s expense. However, one paragraph addresses exceptions and reads as follows: "Property owners who have documents showing that they have taken measures to prevent their water services from freezing will be allowed to run water during times when frost levels are deeper than normal. To qualify for the exception provided by this paragraph, property owners will need to contact the City before they begin to run water. If the City determines that the measures taken were adequate, the City will then track their consumption, calculating their average and adjusting their bills to reflect the average only.
The League of Minnesota Cities published an article (PDF) educating the public about frozen water lines.