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Frozen Pipes Aren't Just An Issue For Homeowners, Cities Are Having Trouble, Too

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This extreme cold is creating a headache for cities and homeowners alike. Many residents have been surprised to find no water coming from their faucets.

While indoor pipes are often to blame, there are hundreds of cases where underground, outdoor pipes are causing the problems, too. Water service lines that connect to water mains under the street are also freezing.

"This has been a banner year here for stuff like this. People haven't been geared up to deal with hundreds and hundreds of these freeze ups," said Rick Bednar, the utility operations supervisor for Coon Rapids.

He says his department is swamped.

"They've been working 7 days a week," he said.

And Coon Rapids isn't the only suburb dealing with the problem. Fridley, White Bear Lake and Roseville are, too.

While snow can serve as insulation, service lines 6-10 feet below neighborhood streets can freeze solid. Plumbers have also found the lines under people's driveways frozen.

Each city has a different set of rules for how they handle city property versus private property.

"We take care of everything from the shut off in the yard to the street," said Bednar, in regards to Coon Rapids' policies.

The Coon Rapids has contracted a specialized plumbing company to help. They use steam to try to thaw the frozen service lines.

And when steam doesn't work, crews dig up the pipes or try to temporarily link homes to water with a neighbor's line. That was the case with resident Ted Loftness.

"Then they hooked us up with a neighbor," he said. "Their outside tap, and then a hose to our outside tap."

Loftness said that whatever the solution, he was just glad to have his water back.

"The bathroom situation is a little tough," he said, laughing.


If you lose your water supply, the first thing you should do is call your city. To prevent frozen outdoor pipes, turn your water on a trickle and let it run for the next few weeks.

This will keep outdoor pipes from freezing.

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