Water woes continue in the Northwoods - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Water woes continue in the Northwoods

The cold continues to cause headaches in a Northwoods community.

Rhinelander Water Utility crews have had to thaw more than 300 frozen pipes this year and they're not done yet. Leaders there say they are through the crisis stage but there are still about 20 homes without water.

Crews working to thaw yet another frozen pipe had to play the waiting game on Wednesday.

"It could take 15 to 20 minutes. It could take 24 hours or longer," said Joel Halminiak who works for Rhinelander Waste and Wastewater Utilities.

They are waiting for pipes to thaw out and temperatures to warm up.

Every resident in the city was asked to keep water running. But still, pipes froze.

"One and a very typical one is called water main breaks where the larger piping has failed due to shifting or aging," said Tim Kingman, Rhinelander Public Works director. "Another type of problem, which we've had predominately up here, is where the smaller service piping that goes to individual homes is frozen."

One way crews are tying to fix those frozen pipes is by using a welder to thaw the ice.

"City crew will go out and connect to the piping out in the street and in the home. They will charge a pipe with electricity, mildly heat it up, and then release the ice from the pipelines," said Kingman.

After doing that hundreds of times, the expenses add up.

"Where we would have expected expenses in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, typically we'll handle that by budget. This year we'll be up over half a million dollars," said Kingman.

Leaders say they will deal with the budget later. But right now, they say their priority is getting everyone's water running.

Rhinelander Water Utilities leaders are asking all residents to continue running their water. They say they will notify people when it is warm enough to stop.

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