Cold weather leaves hundreds without water


by Scott Evans

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 22 at 9:30 PM

BOISE – It's been so cold for so long that water meters several feet underground are freezing.

That has left families without water and crews working to fix the problem. Right now, United Water Idaho has six crews of two working to turn people's water back on. They’re working around the clock.

"With this prolonged sub-freezing weather, the frost level, the ground if you will, is getting colder and colder and ultimately reaches the water meter," said Mark Snider, public affairs manager for United Water Idaho.

United Water has around 84,000 customers; most of them live in Boise.

This past weekend United Water received upwards of 600 phone calls from people whose water didn't work. About half of those people had a frozen water meter.

The water meter tracks the water that comes from the main line to a home. It's the water company's property.

"If you don't have water, call United Water,” explained Snider. “We'll send a crew out like the one that's working behind me, to take a look to see if it's the water meter. If the meter is frozen, we will repair it, replace it, thaw it, do what's necessary at no cost to the customer."

If a frozen water meter is the problem, crews can have the water back on in about 30 minutes. They will even put in some insulation to prevent the problem from happening again.

"I've been with the company about seven years and haven't seen this prolonged stretch of cold weather and the impact on meters," said Snider.

If the water meter isn't the problem then you'll likely need a plumber.

The meters surrounded by grass and dirt tend to freeze less than those surrounded by concrete because they're better insulated. It's the meters surrounded by concrete that are creating most of the freezing problems right now.

United Water's customer service phone number is (208) 362-7304.

Their after hours emergency number is (208) 362-1300.