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'Pioneer stuff': Winter-weary Minnesotans lug water after pipes freeze

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Add this to the list of Minnesotans' winter-weather woes: an unusually high number of frozen pipes.

In Brainerd, there have been a record 154 water service lines frozen this year, compared to zero last year, Brainerd Public Utilities Superintendent Scott Magnuson told the Brainerd Dispatch. BPU has declared a water main emergency, asking residents to continuously run a pencil-wide stream of water in one sink until April 15, the newspaper reports.

Brainerd is hardly alone. A number of cities around the state report “a high number of frozen pipes,” Craig Johnson of the League of Minnesota Cities told the Star Tribune.

Ground frost has dug deeper this year, freezing, cracking and bursting both the aging, large city-maintained pipes as well as the smaller lines that run from curbs to homes, the newspaper reports.

In the metro, frozen pipes have been a problem in Eagan, Bloomington, Richfield, New Hope, Plymouth and Anoka. In Roseville, Molly Aichele's family has been hauling five-gallon buckets of water from a neighbor’s home for use in bathing and in the toilet, the Star Tribune reports.

"This is pioneer stuff here almost," Greg Grimley, of Brownsdale, Minnesota, told KAAL this week. He and several neighbors had been without water for about two weeks.

In Austin, there were 90 people without water, KAAL reported. "It's ‘Little House on the Prairie’ for sure,” Nicole Trostem, of Austin, told KAAL. “The first day we lost water, I went outside and actually boiled snow just to be able to have some water in the house."

The Star Tribune reports that city utility officials are spreading the word that residents ought to test their cold water temperature. If it is 35 degrees or below, they recommend running a small stream of water continuously to prevent freezing. They say the extra $10 a month on a water bill is well worth it.

How can you help prevent a frozen pipe burst? "This Old House" has a few tips.

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