Despite having three water main breaks over the past weekend, city officials in Belmond are saying now that water is running without any major breaks. The city was having to face the repair on several fractured mains up until Tuesday, when repair crews determined that the lines were all repaired for now. The problem with the lines was that ice had developed in the underground pipes in combination with a frost line that had sunk in some cases as much as five feet. There were reports that it had gone down to six feet in some locations, but those were found primarily north of Belmond in cities and towns like Thompson, Buffalo Center, and Forest City.
January and February played a major role in the development of cracks in the lines forcing Public Works Director Mark Dirks to have to approach the council about repairing by best estimates, around 1,000 feet of piping in the area at a cost of nearly $25,000. Some of the lines, he said, were nearly 100 years old. He felt that if they were to cap some of the lines, shut off others and leave them abandoned, and re-route through still others, that the city would be best served until all repairs were made. The plan has apparently worked, for now.
Lee Ann Waltzing, City Administrator told KIOW News that the water was now running to all residents and that repairs, even to a line where they did not have parts for and had to order them, was now in operation. She told KIOW News that she hoped the problems were resolved for good. Officials are looking at the city council to authorize Public Works to begin to tackle the repair and replacement issues as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, even the pumping station is now returning to normal. Earlier it had to deal with such a high volume of consumed water, that it could not keep up and began producing hard water. The system can pump 1,200 gallons a second through the water lines. Because of the sheer number of residents running water at a trickle or more, some even running all of their sinks, to prevent the lines from freezing, the pumping station could not keep up.
“We are back to as near normal as can be.” stated Waltzing. Officials did say that they will continue to monitor the situation for now and assess the next steps carefully. They continue to remind residents that the free water period is now over. Residents were not being charged for continually running their water in order to prevent frozen lines during the cold winter months when the frost line ran so deep into the ground.