Madison crews face new, rare challenge to keep water flowing to - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison crews face new, rare challenge to keep water flowing to homes

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The cold is once again freezing water service in the area. Madison Water Utility's crews are fighting a new problem that's cut off service to some homes.

Water spokesperson Amy Barrilleaux tells 27 News frozen lateral pipes is a very rare problem, just a handful of calls come in every year. Until now. They've had more than 30 lateral freezes since Saturday.

At least two homes in a neighborhood off Cottage Grove Road are affected. Utility officials say the problem is most common on dead end streets or cul de sacs. Those are areas with less active water mains and fewer houses using water.

"This year we've got a lot of people who have never had a lateral freeze before," says Barrilleaux. "The frost is about five feet, maybe even more, in the ground. That's pretty deep, so we're going out and one by one unfreezing those laterals and that takes time."

The utility only has one crew that normally does this kind of work but has put another on duty to try and keep up with needs all over town, but it's leaving some without water for days.

Ken and Vicki Bavery lost water on Saturday. They called in for help but crews weren't able to come out to start repairing the problem until late Monday afternoon.

"We couldn't shower, we had no water for the lavatories, brushing your teeth is a bit of a problem, you can't do dishes and you can't wash clothes," Ken tells 27 News.

The Baverys got by in those few days, borrowing water from neighbors, letting dishes pile up in the kitchen and patiently waiting for the water to flow again. The couple is understanding that they're not the only ones.

Workers are going door-to-door in the affected neighborhoods in Madison to let homeowners know what's going on, asking them to keep their faucets running until they tell them to stop.

Only a few dozen homeowners are affected, so the utility is not asking all of its 86,000 customers to keep their water running, just those contacted.

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