Crews digging for answers to frozen pipes problem

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – After frozen pipes left dozens of homes in Niagara Falls without water for months, crews have started test excavations to try to get to the root of the problem.

A private company is performing two test excavations on 72nd Street this week in an attempt to determine just why the pipes here are so vulnerable to freezing.

City leaders say they had to wait for the warmer weather to fully investigate the issue, and that’s just what crews and engineers are doing now. The third-party crews are specifically excavating pipes that froze early and late in the season to determine what the problem is, if any, explained Paul Drof, Executive Director of the Niagara Falls Water Board, adding that whatever the crews find will determine the city and the Water Board’s next steps moving forward.

The cost of each of these exploratory digs is about $5,000 including the clean up after. The number of excavations needed will ultimately be needed will depend on what crews find in the preliminary digs this week.

“That down there is a waste of money looking for what the problem is,” said Joe Hauser who lives up the street from the first excavation site. “The city and the Water Board know what the problem is,” he exclaimed, saying the pipes were not placed deep enough to remain below the frost line when the street was redone and lowered a few years ago.

City officials say it’s too early to say for sure what the problem is and they’re asking for patience to allow the engineers to work and find the real solution. The mayor says the city is hopeful the fix – whatever it may be – can happen before the winter freeze arrives again.

But a lot of people we talked to on 72nd Street tell News 4 they’re so sick of fighting with the city and the water board and waiting for action, their hope that the problem will be fixed has pretty much dried up.

“They know the problem. That’s the problem!” Hauser said. “The city and the water board are butting heads, ‘Whose fault is this?'”

In the meantime, some residents here say they feel trapped. They can’t even sell their houses to escape the situation while the problem persists because no one would buy their homes.

At least a few people on 72nd Street tell News 4 they are looking to take legal action against the city and the water board.

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