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La Salle is stumped when it comes to thawing water lines

Posted by wlpo on March 4, 2014

A broken water main is common in La Salle but a frozen water main is not. Not until now. The water main in the 1200 block of Lafayette Street is frozen, something city officials only confirmed hours before a special meeting about frozen water lines Monday.

Many of the people living on that block were at the meeting including Edith Simpkins who has been without running water since February 10th. She’s disappointed no one from the city has been to her home.

Public Works Superintendent Jeff Bumgarner fielded questions similar to hers for over an hour. With more than 60 homes affected by frozen lines, he says they’ve tried different techniques for thawing lines but with little success. He doesn’t believe they will have any luck at Simpson’s house but he’s open to new ideas.

One man who is without water suggested a heat exchange concept used at construction sites to thaw ground. Another man sarcastically suggested they be allowed to burn their leaves to thaw the ground.

Mayor Jeff Grove says they may be better off letting nature run its course and putting their resources towards fixing the water main so it doesn’t freeze again. The main running through that block of Lafayette is thought to be fewer than three feet below the road. All of the lines that are frozen are under roads or paved areas not under yards where they would be insulated by the snow.

In the meantime city officials say they want to help. People without water will receive a break on their city bills. They can also fill jugs of water at the fire station and shower at the Illinois Valley Y. If you have water and would like to help a neighbor who doesn’t, it may be possible to run a hose to the next house. Water delivery would be appreciated and as one woman suggested so would dinner.

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