Library branch closed after water line freezes

Officials noticed problem Saturday and closed facility on Monday.

Posted on Feb. 17, 2014 at 6:21 p.m.

ELKHART — The Pierre Moran library branch became one of the latest victims of the prolonged deep freeze.

The branch, located off Benham Avenue and north of the Sears store, closed at noon Monday after officials learned a water line that extends underground to a water main had become frozen.

The number of water customers with frozen water lines is still growing.

Laura Kolo, the city's utility services manager, said that as of late Friday, the city was aware of more than 100 residential and business customers who sustained frozen water lines.

Kolo said she expects that number to jump significantly when she's updated on the issue Tuesday. Most city offices were closed Monday for Presidents' Day.

Elkhart Public Library director Deborah Stewart said she was unsure when the facility would reopen. Library staff noticed the problem on Saturday, but did not close the branch immediately because they were unsure why water was suddenly cut off.

On Monday, staff determined the problem is not with pipes under the building, but rather, the water line that extends and connects with a water main that serves a neighborhood to the north.

Elkhart Public Library's main library in downtown Elkhart and three other branches remain open.

Stewart said she hopes warmer temps expected to arrive later this week will help speed up the process. She said library officials are looking at alternatives that can be done about the situation.

While frozen pipes have been a sporadic problem in recent weeks, this winter's prolonged cold spell has pushed the underground frost line down much further than normal to the point where it is affecting buried water lines.

Elkhart and other communities began warning residents last week of the possibility that water lines could start freezing.

Numerous officials have suggested customers leave a slow trickle on some faucets to help prevent freezing.

As of last week, Elkhart had reported about 40 residential and business customers had lost water service because of frozen water lines. The city was offering to temporarily connect affected customers to nearby customers, but only if all parties were agreeable.

The National Weather Service forecast predicts warmer temperatures with daily high temps above freezing through Saturday, beginning Tuesday.

Despite the expected warmup, Kolo said she believes it will take much longer for buried water pipes to thaw.

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