CRYSTAL LAKE – Some residents who have battled frozen pipes this winter could see a break on their water bills thanks to changes to sewer and water policies approved by the Crystal Lake City Council.
A record number of frozen water service lines has cost the city this winter as two public works crews have been specifically assigned to treat the more than 40 frozen lines, said Andy Resek, water division superintendent for the city.
The workload has required overtime and weekend shifts and is a significant increase from the five or so frozen service lines the department deals with in a standard winter, Resek said.
To encourage residents who are highly susceptible to frozen pipes to run a constant stream of water, the city will adjust water bills to disregard the cost of maintaining the flow. Instructions will be delivered to residents selected by the city. Some residents may receive instructions within a few days before another potential cold occurs.
“Just because it is warming up for a couple days doesn’t mean we are past the danger zone,” said George Koczwara, interim finance director. “There is kind of a false sense of hope when it does warm up that it is going to thaw out.”
Resek said the freeze is so deep in the ground it extends past the buried service lines and will require two to four weeks of temperatures in the 40s before it will have fully thawed.
While most residents who have experienced frozen lines will receive city instructions, some will not. Resek said pipes that freeze between the b-box – a shutoff valve usually located near the front of the home – and the home are the resident’s responsibility. The city is responsible for service lines that freeze between the b-box and water main.
“Our public works department has a good idea of who is susceptible to frozen lines so it’s not going to be a systemwide change,” Koczwara said of the new policy.
Resek said the water billing adjustments could be used in future winters when the weather requires it.