Pipes freeze throughout region; municipalities say keep water flowing

Feb 27, 2015

The cities of Syracuse, Oswego, Watertown and more than a dozen towns and villages in Jefferson County are urging residents to run a trickle of water through a faucet to keep pipes from freezing. One of them is the village Mannsville, south of Watertown. David Sommerstein spoke with the village Mayor Lori Cashel. She says she can’t remember freezing pipes being this much of problem in decades.

Mayor Lori Cashel: It’s just that frost level has gotten driven down so far. Actually, one of the properties that froze – it was the lateral [pipe] underneath the road – it was my brother’s. And he says ‘I lived here for 45 years and I’ve never had my water line freeze.’ And actually, it’s my mother’s home and he bought it from her and we lived there since 1967 and we never had water freeze there, never.

David Sommerstein: So, it’s the mayor’s brother who’s water froze?

Cashel: Yes, one of them is the mayor’s brother, yes -- a 2:35 this morning text telling me that his water froze, again.

Sommerstein: Oh, no.

Cashel: And I work for the village of Adams. I’m the deputy clerk at the village of Adams, and they’ve had several freezes. And it’s mostly from lateral [pipes] across the road, where there’s no snow cover on it.

Sommerstein: What happens?

Cashel: Obviously those people aren’t getting water, so we call a company to help us get it unthawed.

Sommerstein: And that costs some extra money I would imagine?

Cashel: Yes. We’ve spent $900 on thawing two lines. It would be costly if we had more water lines freeze up. That’s why we decided to have people run their water.

Sommerstein: You’re asking people to run a little trickle in one of their [faucets’. What does that do?

Cashel: It just keeps the water flowing through the pipes so that it doesn’t have the opportunity – You know, if you go to bed at night and you turn your water off, the water just sits there and it has the opportunity to freeze. When you have flowing water, you know, like anything, like Niagara Falls. When water is flowing it doesn’t freeze as easily. So that’s what we’re asking people to do, just keep the water flowing.

Sommerstein: And you are going to credit their accounts somehow?

Cashel: Yes, we are. Before the bills are even sent out, we will be doing averages and send them the correct bill. We’re not going to send a bill out for 30,000 extra gallons. We’re going to do all the corrective measures before the bills get sent out.

Sommerstein: How do you know somebody’s not going to, I don’t know, do a bunch of laundry in the middle of the night or something?

Cashel: Well, I guess that’s the chance we’re going to have to take. And maybe a little extra water off us, than it would be to have 10 or 15 extra freeze-ups.