Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Underground pipes are thawing in Elkhart County

But don't rejoice just yet: the chance of burst underground pipes persists as the ground begins to shift.

Posted on March 26, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

ELKHART — With warming temperatures, freeze warnings issued in several communities have been lifted.

Millersburg announced it was lifting its freeze warning after officials there determined the frost line had receded to a level that is unlikely to cause underground pipes to freeze.

Millersburg customers who let water trickle out of their faucets as a precautionary step to prevent freezing pipes will no longer receive a credit on their bills after Friday, March 28, according to a statement released by the town.

The town of Middlebury announced last week that it also set a March 28 deadline for its freeze warning grace period.

Goshen and Elkhart have already rescinded freeze warnings. Both cities also offered arrangements for customers who took precautions.

Extreme cold conditions in January and February led to frozen water pipes for homeowners and businesses throughout the area.

On top of that, water lines running from houses to main lines became frozen and caused problems for hundreds of residences in the area.

Municipal water departments have also faced an increased number of burst water mains.

Oddly, there continues to be a chance for newly burst water mains and service lines, in part, because the ground surrounding pipes tends to shift as it warms. That shifting causes pipes to move and sometimes disconnect.

Laura Kolo, utility services manager, said they’re starting to receive calls from customers saying their lines have thawed. But one of those mentioned their service line had broken as well.

She estimated about 200 Elkhart customers sustained frozen service lines and that roughly 70 customers had tapped onto neighbor’s water service as a short-term solution.

The city of Elkhart offered a special billing arrangement for neighbors who provided help.

Customers who had tapped onto a neighbor’s line will notice a significant increase in water pressure when their own service line thaws, she said.

While temperatures have been below freezing in recent days, high temps could reach into the 50s by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

You can reach Elkhart Truth reporter Dan Spalding at 574-296-5813, 574-855-7612 or on Twitter @DanimalSB.

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