Goshen officials remain unsure when freeze warning will be lifted

    The warmer temperatures might make some think their pipes are no longer vulnerable to freeze. But that's not the case, officials said.


    Posted on Feb. 26, 2014 at 5:22 p.m.

    GOSHEN — If it's not one thing, it's another.

    Goshen's Water Utility has spent much of this season trying to combat frozen water lines, but it is also focusing on making sure catch basins are free of ice.

    Kent Holdren, the water utility superintendent, said crews spent much of Thursday, Feb. 20, unplugging catch basins to provide a place to go for melting snow.

    Some of the months-old snow piles are finally melting, but that hasn't led to the city lifting the freeze warning for water pipes.

    The warmer temperatures might make some think their pipes are no longer vulnerable to freeze. But that's not the case, Holdren said.

    "That doesn't mean we're out of the woods," he said.

    The ground temperature isn't as agile as the air; it doesn't change as quickly, Holdren said.

    Holdren said the frost line currently sits at five feet, and Goshen won't consider lifting the warning until it rises to between two-and-a-half and three feet.

    And more cold weather this week, it's unclear when the freeze warning may be lifted.

    As a result, customers are advised to continue letting a pencil-thick stream of water run from a single cold-water faucet.

    If customers do take this precaution, they should contact the Utility Business Office at 533-9399 so they may receive an adjustment on their water and sewer bills during the freeze warning period.

    Holdren said nearly 1,500 customers have already taken this step and urged anyone that begins to run water to prevent freezing to contact the business office to notify them of their participation.

    So far this season, the department has seen 21 instances of water lines freezing or breaking due to the cold.

    Currently, all have been repaired, save for two commercial properties where lines are still frozen.

    Another problem the department ran into forced employees to get creative in thawing frozen pipes.

    After the department discovered the plumber they were going to have work on the lines was already backed up with work, water utility workers improvised a solution.

    Crafting a makeshift pump out of, among other pieces of equipment, a turkey fryer, department employees visited 19 locations to melt the ice.

    The process works by digging down to the line, cutting it and then pumping hot chlorinated water into the pipe.

    The unique method has worked so far, but Holdren hopes he won't have to use it again.

    Like many people in the area, this winter has been long and taxing on the Water Utility.

    Holdren said he recently looked at the list a previous superintendent created that noted properties where pipes were most likely to freeze.

    The last time a new entry was added to that list? That would be in 1989, which Holdren said means there hasn't been a season like this in about a quarter century.

    "We haven't seen this in a long time," he said, followed by a short chuckle.

    Holdren is grateful to the city's residents and business owners who have worked with the Goshen's departments, whether things are freezing or thawing.

    "I give my kudos to residents in town, with the recent flooding and snowfall," he said.


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