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Frozen main dries up houses in Oronoco

ORONOCO — The Button family's new dream home is missing one key element: running water.

The Buttons' house is one of five in Oronoco that doesn't have running water after a water main froze on Feb. 25. The main remains frozen, and some are worried a thaw could be weeks or even months away.

To help residents get by until the water main thaws, the city of Oronoco has installed water tanks and pumps in the affected homes, costing the city about $1,000 per home.

The Buttons moved into the Cedar Woodlands residential community on Friday, finding out shortly before they wouldn't have running water.

Brian Button said a lack of residents in Cedar Woodlands played a key role in the pipes freezing.


"We were told there wasn't enough usage, and that's why the mains froze up," Brian Button said.

After the mains froze on Feb. 25, the Oronoco City Council called an emergency session on Feb. 27 to discuss water outages. Public works supervisor Cain Dolan said the engineering firm Stantec and the Minnesota Rural Water Association recommended Oronoco officials leave the water mains alone and wait for them to thaw.

To make sure the problem does not escalate, the city has been running hydrants.

Paul and Christine Jannetto and their two children lost running water on Feb. 25. Plumbers arrived at their home on Feb. 28 with tanks, pumps and 300 gallons of water, which ended up being more than enough.

"We are doing some conserving, but when we were using the toilets, the shower, the washer and the dishwasher, we realized that there wasn't as much water being used as we thought," Christine Jannetto said. "We have very efficient appliances."

No one knows when the five homes will go back to normal, although the deep frost line this year makes some worry it could be as late as June.

Dolan admitted the city could pay to have ground ripped up and the pipes inspected, but a major project like that would not be cost effective for the town of a little more than 1,320 people.

"We just can't be digging up water mains," Dolan said. "(The water delivery) is the best thing we can offer these residents. What we did was have a licensed plumber come to their homes and hook up a well pump and pressure tank. The city will then deliver water three days a week."


The water is delivered between 7-8 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The residents aren't charged for the water and won't be until the running water returns.

"They haven't given us a date, no official date," said Brian Button. "They hope it is as soon as possible and so do we."

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