Cold conditions continue to cause complications

Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District is working around the clock to prevent a plant shutdown, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.
Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District is working around the clock to prevent a plant shutdown, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.

GREEN BAY - The cold and ice continue to make life rough for people all around the area, including our largest city.

Chilly conditions are putting extra demands on those who work to keep the city of Green Bay running.

"Every hour or two hours, we're out here doing every basin," said Mark Mansky, a treatment operator at Green Bay's sewage treatment plant.

Four crews work around the clock chipping away ice to keep equipment running at NEW Water.

"The staff has to stay on top of it to keep it from freezing," said treatment manager Bruce Bartel.

More than 220,000 customers depend on the plant's services.

"It's the worst I've ever seen in my 29 years as far as freezing, and I've seen ice in places that I've never seen before," said Bartel.

Bartel says the worst case scenario is the plant would shut down and sewer systems could back up into people's homes.

"But I don't see that happening," Bartel said.

The deep freeze is also causing more problems for the city's water utility.

"This cold weather is really hard on people," said general manager Nancy Quirk.

The utility has asked more than 1,300 households to let water run at a trickle to prevent frozen pipes.

But, pipes continue to freeze. And some take longer to thaw. Right now, more than 50 homes must get their water from a neighbor through a hose. And now there are issues with hoses.

"We've had a number of people call in when the hoses aren't running, I mean people have been running their faucets full and they're still freezing," Quirk said.

"Until Mother Nature helps us, it's going to be a slow go," said public works superintendent Tony Feitzer.

Feitzer says last week's little teaser of spring caused more grief in the long run.

"Two days of thawing, with that one day of rain and the thunderstorm, led to everything but breaking up that was snow packed on the street, and now it's rock hard and back to ice," said Feitzer.

Feitzer adds salt has become mostly ineffective, so crews must to resort to other methods.

"It has an effective rate to about 15 degrees pavement temperature. And with these extreme colds that we've had, our pavement's far colder than that right now. So the colder it gets the longer it takes to melt the ice and snow," said Feitzer.

Public works officials say they're doing what they can to scrape the roads clean, however as you saw, not the most ideal conditions right now.