Madison neighbors deal with days with no water

City crews pull marathon shifts to respond to all calls
Madison neighbors deal with days with no water
City welder Mike Draper's equipment

For Ken Bavery, the last 48 hours have been like camping in his own east side Madison home.

Bavery’s house is situated on a cul-de-sac on Stacy Lane, and he has lived there for 22 years. He said there has never been a winter when his water was frozen out of his own home.

“We didn’t get a drop,” Bavery said.


Bavery and his wife came home Saturday around dinner time to no running water in the house. Since then, dishes stacked up next to the sink. Bavery has had to borrow gallons of water from neighbors to flush toilets and use bottled water to cook.

He got a hold of someone with Madison Water Utility Sunday morning.

“He says, ‘There are 17, I think, on the list.’ I say, ‘OK,'” Bavery said. “What do you do? It is what it is.”

Madison Water Utility went door to door in Bavery’s neighborhood Monday asking certain people to leave their faucets on with a pencil-thin stream of water to prevent more pipes from freezing. The department received more than 30 reports of water not running in homes in the last two days.

The city is used to handling a handful of these calls every winter, not dozens.

“We’re stuck with this until we get some really good thaws,” Bavery said.

Bavery said the city tested the water temperature from a hydrant near his house, and he was told it measured out to less than 31 degrees when it is usually around 50 degrees.

“That’s the problem with the circle. The neighbors were gone across the street for a week. This one here has been empty for months,” Bavery said. “And there’s not a lot of water moving!”

City welder Mike Draper came out to Bavery’s house Monday evening. He said it was his 85th house of the season, and he still has at least 30 left on his list.

“I’m doing at least 12 to 14 a day, and then 16 to 18 on the weekends,” Draper said.

Draper fixed Bavery’s laterals by pushing electric currents through the pipes and thawing them out until water starts to flow again.

Draper said he’s not only dealing with call volume, but also has to worry about overworking his equipment. He said electrical issues can also be challenging. He has to make sure no stray electrical currents from equipment ignite any part of the house he’s working on.

“On top of the cold weather, now all of the sudden lack of water,” Draper said.

Monona Public Works has responded to about a dozen homes and two businesses without water. That community might not see help for up to three days because the contractors are backlogged with work.

Sun Prairie’s water utilities team fixed three residential pipes over the weekend and had reports of another leaky lateral Monday.

Monona, New Lisbon, Sun Prairie and Middleton are among the communities asking their residents to run a pencil-thin stream of water through one of their faucets at all times.