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updated: 2/17/2014 6:02 PM

Keep that water running; service lines now freezing

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Tri-Cities public works officials want you to add one more task in your battle against this vexing winter: Leave a faucet running with a pencil-sized trickle.

Even though temperatures have climbed back into the 20s, frost has extended deep enough in the ground that there's been a surge of water-service lines freezing and breaking, according to John Dillon, Batavia water superintendent.

Water mains are typically buried 5 to 6 feet below grade around here, he said, but can vary. Service lines are typically set at 5 feet, but "it is not unusual to find them deeper, or shallower," Dillon said.

The city is seeing frost in unprotected areas, such as roads, driveways and parking lots, going down more than 40 inches, putting shallow service lines at risk.

"There really is not too much difference whether a home is built on a slab, or with full basement, or crawl space," he said.

Discolored water is one sign of a possibly frozen service. Low pressure, unusually cold water and sputtering sounds when opening a fixture are other signs something is amiss.

Batavia and Geneva have sent email blasts to utility customers and residents signed up for their electronic newsletters and posted the information on Facebook and Twitter.

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