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Every year, a select list of residents receives a special notice from the City of Minot – but it’s not exactly a list anyone wants to join.
Each winter, the City sends the letter to remind those residents to run their water regularly to help avoid frozen pipes. This year, the “freeze up” list included 168 addresses.
“The City has been doing this for many, many years,” said Assistant Public Works Director Jason Sorenson. “Every year is different, depending on when it gets cold. A couple of years ago, we added a few addresses to the list, but this year we installed some new service lines, so we took a few locations off the list.”
Most of the 168 addresses have been receiving the letters for many years.
“What triggers the process is when the resident at one specific address calls us to say their line is freezing up. When that call comes in, we send out the letters to everyone on the ‘freeze up’ list,” Sorenson said.
The City doesn’t charge the residents for the extra water they need to keep the pipes clear, Sorenson said. Instead, the City bills the residents the same cost as an average month of their water usage. In the end, it’s cheaper and easier than having a crew go out in the cold weather to thaw the lines.
“We’re trying to avoid the headache for the homeowner and for the City to have a crew go out and thaw the lines,” Sorenson said, adding that when it’s necessary, a small line that sprays water is inserted into the larger water line to help break up the ice and restore water flow.
The affected addresses are scattered across the city, Sorenson said, and are on the list for different reasons. Some are older homes with water lines buried shallower than today’s standard of 8.5 feet. But not all problems are caused by shallow water lines.
“Sometimes the water line is deep enough, but there’s a storm sewer that’s been installed over the top of it, so the open space allows the ground to freeze around the storm sewer and penetrate deeper than usual,” Sorenson explained.
New technology will potentially help eliminate the freeze-up problem.
“Over the last few years, water meter technology has improved and we have installed a couple of meters that have a probe that sends out an alarm at a preset temperature,” Sorenson said. “We’re still testing these meters to see if the technology works consistently.”
Meanwhile, the “freeze up” letters will continue to be sent.
Sorenson said if residents have concerns about their water lines freezing they should test their water temperature; a water temperature approaching 35 degrees Fahrenheit could be cause for concern. Residents can contact Public Works at 857-4140 for more information or to have their address added to the “freeze up” list.