By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Colfax experienced its first water main break this winter near the intersection of East Railroad Avenue and county Highway M by Sampson Funeral Home the morning of Friday, March 14.
Rand Bates, director of public works, says he hopes it is only water main break for the season.
Unfortunately, because of the extended sub-zero weather over the past three months and frost that has gone down seven or eight or nine feet, Bates says he is concerned that as the ground begins to thaw, other breaks will become apparent.
“Some of the laterals we thawed out are probably cracked, but we won’t know that until the ground thaws,” Bates said.
Village employees and Randy Valaske, owner of Tainter Machine, have thawed out about 40 frozen water laterals so far this year.
The water main break on East Railroad made its presence known Friday morning with a geyser of water shooting up from the street that was several feet high.
By noon on Friday, village employees and crew members from A1 Excavating had dug out the broken water main.
The visitation for Patricia Sumstad of Colfax was scheduled for later in the afternoon at Sampson Funeral Home, but Bates said he expected the water main to be repaired by then.
The broken water main, Bates said, is exactly the reason why village residents have been strongly urged to run their water continuously.
Water moving through the laterals keeps the water from freezing and also keeps water moving through the mains.
Village residents are urged to keep their water running until further notice.
No one can predict when the ground will thaw sufficiently that the laterals and mains are no longer in danger of freezing, but depending upon the weather, it could be sometime in May before it is safe to shut off the water.
Last week when the weather warmed up to 40 degrees, several people shut off their water and then their water laterals froze, Bates said.
“Right now we are sitting on a giant ice cube. It’s going to take a while for that to thaw,” he said.