Madison Water Utility has received more than 100 calls since Saturday from customers who have no water because of frozen laterals (the pipe that leads from a water main to a home). In a typical winter, we receive fewer than five calls, so the situation Madison is currently facing is extremely rare. In some areas, we are opening up fire hydrants to prevent our own water mains from freezing.
While maintenance of a service lateral is generally the responsibility of the homeowner, we offer one lifetime courtesy thaw per property. Our crews have been working almost non-stop, going from home to home for the past several weeks to thaw frozen services. However, because the frost line has now plunged to six feet in some areas, the list of customers waiting for thaws continues to grow. Some may wait 2-5 days before service is restored.
We are in the process of bringing in additional equipment to so we can thaw laterals as quickly as possible, and we appreciate our customers' continued patience as we work to get through what has been an extremely difficult winter. Homeowners who feel they need water immediately do have the option to call a plumber to have their lines thawed, but it will be at their own expense.
Checking the temperature of your water:
If you are concerned about your service lateral freezing, you can run your water for a few minutes then check its temperature by holding an ordinary thermometer in the stream. If the reading is less than 35 degrees, call Madison Water Utility at (608) 266-4651.
If you believe your lateral is frozen, call Madison Water Utility Dispatch at (608) 266-4661.