Cloquet water program helps prevent frozen pipes
The recent unusual polar vortex caused issues for some Cloquet residents, including loud shifting in older houses, but it didn't affect the city water pipes.
Cloquet City Utility Supervisor Ross Biebl said there have been a few broken pipes from the heaving and shifting of the ground this year, but nothing unusual.
According to Biebl, the 2014 weather had prolonged cold temperatures and caused his workers a lot of headaches with several pipes freezing around the area.
This year, the frozen pipes have been service lines at residences. Service lines are the smaller lines that run from the large main lines of the city infrastructure to the homes.
According to Biebl, the majority of the issues are just inside of the homes and usually occur when there is little or no insulation in the area of the pipe. When that happens, residents can use a hair dryer or heat gun to thaw the pipes and get water flowing.
Biebl said his crew monitors the depth of the frost level by looking in the manholes. As the frost levels head deeper, the city mails letters to citizens who have a history of pipes freezing.
The running water program has five tiers of frost level concerns. Residents who have pipes freeze the most easily have letters mailed to them when the frost level reaches the minimum mark.
When the frost level reaches the next mark, the city mails out the residents on that list to alert them to leave their water running so the pipes don't freeze. The procedure works in reverse once the ground begins to thaw.
The city mails the residents in each tier as the frost slowly creeps back out of the ground to notify them to shut off their running water.
Residents who participate in the program are charged an average fee for their water that month instead of the actual costs.