City says residents have been warned and will have to pay for thawing frozen pipes

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Marcia Nelesen
Friday, February 7, 2014

JANESVILLE--The city's water utility is asking residents to run a trickle of water, especially at night, to help prevent buried water supply pipes from freezing.

The cost of the extra water usage will be borne by residents, unless they are contacted by the city and requested to run the water, Janesville Utility Director Dave Botts said.

Contrary to information Botts provided earlier, the city will not thaw buried pipes the first time for free. City officials believe they have now warned  residents about the danger of freezing water supply pipes and what to do to avoid it.

A resident's responsibility for supply pipe freezes begins at the shut-off valve, which is usually located near the property line. The cost of thawing a pipe begins at $235, which will be billed to the customer account.

Because of the extreme cold, frost continues to push deeper into the ground, freezing water in pipes that run from water mains under streets into homes.

The utility has seen a record number of water main breaks and supply pipe freezes this season. Workers have been working around the clock, according to a release from the city.

Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing for at least 10 days.

Botts said property owners could choose whether to run water.

He estimates running a pencil-sized stream would cost about $1.50 per day. That charge would be at the expense of the property owner.

Some property owners, however, might receive a letter from the water utility requesting they contact the utility and run their water. Those residents would be eligible for a credit.

Residents might get such a letter of their pipes are identified as being at special risk. Workers are taking water temperatures to help them identify areas at risk.

“It may give us a concern that there's not enough flow in that area (and the pipes) could potentially be more susceptible,” Botts said.

For example, in the older, downtown areas, pipes are closer together, and water moves better, Botts said. But water does not move as well in some of the newer subdivisions, he said.

“There's a half-dozen places around town that the guys are keeping track of,” Botts said.

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