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Several Rhinelander residents waiting for water pipes to be thawed

Story By Morgan Johnson
Local News Published 02/19/2021 5:04PM, Last Updated 02/21/2021 5:06PM
Rhinelander - It's something Diana Kirby uses every day.

Except when she woke up Thursday morning.

"Yesterday morning I woke up and I had no water," said Kirby, a resident of Rhinelander.

Kirby says it's the second time in four years her water pipes froze.

"I was working down in the basement two days ago and I was using the water and when I came upstairs, I guess instead of having the stream pencil-thin, it ended up probably just dribbling," said Kirby. "I didn't pay any attention at all; never went down there again."

Since then she's been getting creative to find water.

"[I've been using] Snow, actually," said Kirby. "And I've had bottles of water downstairs anyway. But it's okay."

Kirby called the Rhinelander Water Department to get her name on the list of people who need their pipes thawed.

She was lucky and only had to wait one day for the water department to get to her.

Kirby was lucky because the water department is busy this time of year.

"In 2014, we did over 500 thaws," said Rhinelander Water Utility Foreman Tom Roeser. "That was the worst year I've ever seen in the city. Last year we did three, so it can vary. Every year we typically get a few anyway."

Roeser says once frost levels get to a certain depth, some households are almost certain to have their pipes freeze.

This year the city's thawed at least 30 houses, with more on the waiting list.

And Roeser reminds people not to run water only when it's cold, but until the frost is gone.

"They need to run the water until the frost releases from the ground," said Roeser. "A lot of people will shut it off once warmer temperatures come but that's not the case since we really need to run until the frost releases."

He encourages people to check the city's list to see if you're eligible to be reimbursed for constantly running water.

Both Roeser and Kirby say: you're better to be safe than sorry.

"Don't be in a hurry like I was," said Kirby. "It's an inconvenience, but I'm doing okay." 
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