KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Water Department’s advisory to have residents run their home’s water nonstop has been upgraded to a water service freeze warning.
On Friday during a news conference, officials updated the situation that is affecting nearly 100 households.
Crews have seen 162 frozen lines since Jan. 26. Normally they see about 12.
The city is already above its budget, and it’s only February. Officials said it may be April or May before things improve.
The last time the city dealt with a similar water issue was in 1994 and 1978.
On Thursday, the department asked all customers, even those outside city limits, to constantly run a stream of water about the size of a pencil in a tub or sink until further notice to prevent pipes from freezing.
If it seems drastic to keep the water running, that’s because the season has been drastic.
“This is the worst winter ever, said Kalamazoo resident Michael Vandeveer. “Yeah, this is the winter from hell.”
Vandeveer and his wife Debbie came home Friday evening to find out the water to their home was off — a burst pipe at the end of their street looked to be the culprit.
“You kind of live in a little bubble… think, ‘Oh it won’t happen to me, we’re fine’ and then we have no water,” Debbie Vanderveer said. She went on to joke, “Darn, I won’t be able to do any laundry!”
Frost reaching as deep as five feet underground caused pipes to freeze between water mains and the sides of customer meters, the City of Kalamazoo said earlier this week. That frost is expected to get even deeper as temperatures drop again next week.
The City has crews working 12-hour shifts, but says it still can’t keep up with the number of requests for help. It has contacted other municipalities to borrow thawing equipment, but other cities are facing similar problems. Officials say it could take up to three weeks for residents to get water service back if their pipes freeze.
Despite not having water himself, Michael Vanderveer said he really felt for the city crews who were out working in the extreme temperatures.
There are some things you can look for that may be indicators of a frozen pipe:
• Decreased water pressure
• Cloudy or rusty water
• Water will be colder than 35 degrees
• History of frozen pipes
Affected residents can pick up bottled water offered at the American Red Cross building at 5640 Venture Court in Kalamazoo.
Red Cross volunteer Nancy Kowalski showed 24 Hour News 8 hundreds of bottles of water Friday night. The water had been donated to the Red Cross from the local Wal-Mart.
“It’s better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and have somebody go without,” Kowalski said of the water. She said the Red Cross has been busy this winter with things like roof collapses and fires.
Kowalski said they can never estimate how many people will turn up, but it’s important to be there.
“Don’t ever be embarrassed to come to the Red Cross,” Kowalski said. “Don’t ever be embarrassed, ‘cause that’s what we’re here for. We’re here for you. And if you need help, we’re here for you.”
Those in need can also call 269.353.6180 for more information.
The YMCA facilities at Maple Street, Centre Street, and Sherman Lake also all have bottled water available for those in need, and they are offering free use of their showers.
Both the YMCA and the Red Cross will not have special hours to distribute the bottled water, and people who need it do need to come during their normal business hours.
Portage, Three Rivers in St. Joseph County and Battle Creek in Calhoun County have issued a similar advisory.