New Chicago trying to melt systemwide water main problems

2014-02-14T20:00:00Z New Chicago trying to melt systemwide water main problemsBy Bill Dolan, (219) 662-5328
February 14, 2014 8:00 pm  • 

NEW CHICAGO | The town's water department has continued trying to break the ice that has stopped water service to at least three homes in New Chicago and Lake Station.

Vicky Hazzard, of the 3300 block of East 34th Avenue in Lake Station, said early Thursday workers were sending an electric current through underground pipes around her house to generate enough heat to unfreeze ice blocking the flow.

"They were at it for 4 1/2 hours Wednesday, but still no luck," she said.

Hazzard said she and a neighbor have been without water service since early this week.

Becky Roberts said her daughter's residence on Huber Boulevard, near Town Hall, hasn't had water since Feb. 1, and their efforts to get the town to help had failed.

Sharon Marrs, of the 2500 block of 36th Avenue, Lake Station, said she has had no water since Jan. 31.

"Our church and neighbors give us water. We go to the Y to shower and wash our hair. We melt snow to flush the toliet," Marrs said.

Hazzard said New Chicago officials told her earlier they weren't responsible for the frozen pipes. Hazzard and Roberts both said they were forced to hire private plumbers, who confirmed the problem is within the pipes leading to their houses.

Hazzard said the town responded only after she appealed to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Wendy Shafer, an IDEM water inspector, contacted the town and demanded town officials help.

Dan Goldblatt, an IDEM spokesman, said Shafer found the pipes frozen between the town's water main and Hazzard's house.

"The town said it wasn't their responsibility, so we asked them to document this; they sent out someone to work on it," Goldblatt said.

Lori Reno, New Chicago municipal clerk-treasurer, issued a water system freeze warning this week that stated bitterly cold temperatures in recent weeks have frozen the ground to depths of 4 feet where water mains are buried.

"It's not just a New Chicago problem. It's systemwide. We have four different sets of plumber teams dispersed throughout our system trying to get these problems taken care of," Reno said.

New Chicago provides drinking water to hundreds homes in town, Hobart and Lake Station.

Hazzard said she went to a New Chicago town board meeting Thursday night and demanded the town pay her plumbing bills and turn over water service to Indiana American Water, a private firm that services a number of local communities.

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