By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — Just because it has turned warmer, it’s not over yet.
The Boyceville Village Board is urging all village residents to continue running their water to keep the laterals and mains from freezing.
Three more laterals have frozen since March 7, said Gilbert Krueger, village president, at the village board’s Monday night meeting.
According to a report from Don Rose, director of public works, the last water line to freeze up was on February 11 — until a resident on Donald Street shut off the water on March 7 because the weather had warmed up.
Another resident on Anderson Hill had not been running water because he or she thought it was optional. Boyceville currently has seven homes that are being supplied water with garden hoses, about a thousand feet all together, according to Rose’s report.
Two unoccupied homes are without water, and three homes that had frozen laterals were able to be thawed with a welder — two of them at the owner’s expense, the report notes.
Village residents most likely will have to continue running their water until sometime in April, Krueger said.
It is important to keep the water running until further notice, even though the weather is warmer, he said.
The frost is seven feet deep at the manholes, where the snow has been plowed. Anywhere that snow has been plowed, the frost is deeper, and the water shut-offs are located where the snow has been plowed, Krueger said.
Keith Sorensen, village trustee, said the water lines had frozen at his place of employment.
The plumbers who came to thaw out the frozen lines said the frost was eight or nine feet deep in some places, he said.
Jonathan Farrell, village trustee, reported that the water and sewer committee had discussed the best way to adjust the water bills to compensate for village residents running water continuously.
Committee members decided that it would be best to use the last quarter of last year as a benchmark, he said.
The village also could use a 365 average, but the average would include summer water usage, Farrell said.
As the weather begins to warm up, the frost will go down farther for a while, noted Herb Dow, village trustee.
Water bills for village residents will have to be adjusted for the first quarter of this year but also for the second quarter because they will have to keep running their water until the ground thaws, he said, noting that it is highly unlikely the ground would thaw by the end of March.
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin requires that municipalities bill for actual consumption and then give a credit to adjust the water bills, Dow said.
Brian Wolff, village trustee, said he had been told that running 4,300 gallons per month, which is the equivalent of six gallons per hour, would be sufficient to keep the water lines open and that the village could give a credit to all residents for 4,300 gallons.
Bud Gilbertson, village trustee, pointed out that some village residents, because of a unique circumstances, such as being at the end of the line for a water lateral, have to run water at a rate greater than six gallons per hour.
Gilbertson said he has a water filter system and that since he has been running water, he has had to change the filter four times.
Usually the filter only needs to be changed once every six months, he said.
Although he started out with a smaller stream, because he is at the end of the line, he has had to increase the stream to half open to keep the lateral from freezing, Gilbertson said.
The water is running brown out of the tap, and one explanation is that the water has ice crystals in it and is “grabbing” minerals off the pipes as it goes by, Gilbertson said.
Other village board members said they had heard of instances where brownish water was coming out of the tap and then the water froze up the next day.
The Boyceville Village Board voted unanimously to use the last quarter of last year as the benchmark for water usage for sewer and water billing.