Hamburg looks at frozen water line solutions

Water Faucet
Hamburg residents are encouraged to keep water running at a pencil stream to prevent frozen water lines. (Submitted photo)

NYA Times

While warm weather and melting snow are a welcome sight to some, Hamburg and area residents are feeling the pressure.
Or lack of it.
Due to the depth of frost in the streets, several water lines have frozen in the city.
While the Hamburg City Council was planning to look at other alternatives at their Tuesday meeting, Hamburg residents are encouraged to keep a faucet running, typically the one closest to their water meters, according to Hamburg City Clerk Jeremy Gruenhagen.
“We’re advising residents to run their water 24/7 at the stream of a pencil until further notice,” he said.
Excavators have reported frost depths between 6 to 8 feet, almost twice the amount of 4 to 5 feet for a typical winter.
Gruenhagen added that residents will be charged what they paid last year for their water bill.
Thus far four service lines in Hamburg have been frozen completely, two of which have been unthawed using a hose process. While there are about 210 service lines total, Gruenhagen expected the process get worse.
“As it warms up and things start to melt it tends to drive that frost deeper,” he said. “We’re just really advising people to run their water.”
The thawing process, which involves the use of a 1/2 jetter line which pumps warm water into the line, costs $200 per hour.
“As these lines freeze we’re looking at a $400 frozen service,” he said. “If we get 10 of them, that’s a lot of money. That’s just $4,000, which would devastate the water budget. We’re trying to minimize our costs here.”
Gruenhagen said this is the first time in 17 years he has experienced this problem, and he and Hamburg employees are playing catch-up.
“We’ve had numerous overtime put in by city employees dealing with this water,” he said.
Gruenhagen said other measures could include using a potential dangerous electrical current or running hoses from neighbors.
“The problem is for me, I’ll be honest, we’re still searching for the perfect solutions because I’ve never dealt with it before,” he said. “All hands are on deck on this in trying to figure out what we can do to make sure people continue to have water.”
Gruenhagen also expected the $20,000 natural gas generator to power the lift station to be installed soon.
The purchase, which was previously considered, was approved on Feb. 11, and will provide power in the case of a power outage.
“The reason we’re doing that is to avoid any possible sewer backups,” he said. “They wanted to have it installed and up and running before the raining.”
Other items on the agenda for the meeting on Tuesday included review of the employee handbook and a contract for the new city utility billing clerk.
Among the other items the council approved at their Feb. 11 meeting was the location of Hamburg Community Hall for the Dollars for Detty benefit for Jeff Dettmann on March 29, approved a contract with Jaguar Communications for city phones, and contracted Curt Reetz for wastewater and water service needs.
Reetz will act as water and wastewater operator until city maintenance person obtains the proper licenses.
The Hamburg City Council will next meet Tuesday, April 14 at 7 p.m., where they will review the financial audit.

Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]