City fielding calls of frozen sewer, water lines

The prolonged and severely cold winter has increased the impact frost is having on both public and private storm sewer, sanitary sewer, and water lines, causing problems with frozen lines.

Standing or rising water in the lowest street drain is a sign of a frozen storm sewer or catchbasin/drain. Call the Elk River Streets Division at 763-635-1120 to resolve the problem.

City wastewater staff has received a number of calls reporting frozen sanitary sewer lines. The city has not had cases of frozen sanitary sewer mains, however a number of private lines (sewer laterals) have frozen. The city is not responsible or equipped to handle frozen laterals. Residents need to hire a plumber to thaw the line.

If residents suspect a frozen water line (no water coming from the faucet) call Elk River Municipal Utilities at 763-441-2020.

Despite recent warmer temperatures, water lines are still in danger of freezing.

In fact, when it is warm during the day, but cold at night, it pushes the frost even deeper, according to ERMU.

Here are some tips to help protect water lines:

•Check the temperature of your water daily through the month of April. Place the tip of an outdoor thermometer in astream of cold water. If it is 40° F or lower, leave your faucet water run continuously at the width of a pencil, preferably in a basement or utility room sink. The cost of proactively running water is much less than needing a plumber to thaw your line. Residents who decide to run their water, should call ERMU at 763-441-2020.

•If you begin to see rusty or dirty looking water, immediately check the water temperature. This is a sign that your water line is close to freezing.

•If there is exposed plumbing in a closet or cabinets on an outside wall, open the cabinet door to let warm air from your home circulate into the area.

If a water line does freeze, the water line from the water main (typically in the street) to each person’s house is their responsibility so they have to hire a plumber.

Visit ERMU’s website at for more tips and information.