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Cities battle uptick in frozen pipes

Residents asked to continuously run water

Cities battle uptick in frozen pipes

ONALASKA, WI (WKBT) - With a winter that won't let up, area communities are telling their residents to keep water running to avoid frozen water pipes. Onalaska and La Crosse are seeing an uptick in service calls for frozen water systems, thanks to an unprecedented five-foot-deep frost.

Onalaska has already asked its residents to keep some water running and keep their home temperature at 65 degrees or more to avoid freezing pipes. But that is just a recommendation - unlike cities like Sparta and West Salem, Onalaska will not give its residents credit to pay for the increase in water and sewage bills.     

City officials say that's because the problem hasn't yet become that serious.

"We're trying to get people to run water as a precautionary measure if they're going to be away from their home for an extended period of time," said Onalaska city engineer Jarrod Holter. "It was purely voluntary. We did not do anything that's a requirement of any of the citizens at this point based on what we're seeing in the city."

Thanks to Onalaska's relatively new infrastructure, most of the city's water systems are 7 feet below the ground and haven't been affected by the deep frost.

That's not the case for La Crosse's residents, though. The city has responded to more than 50 calls in the past few weeks.

2836 "Right now we're keeping up, so I think if we get to the point where we're getting10-20 calls a day or something where we get further behind then we have to reconsider doing that but right now we're okay," said La Crosse utilities manager Mark Johnson.

Johnson added if the city sees a significant uptick in service calls, they may begin to hand out credit in exchange for running water.

The City of La Crosse has a 24/7 hotline to call if you need help with your frozen pipes. You can call them at (608) 789-7388.

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