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UPDATED: Cold temperatures lead to frozen water tower, main break in Ellsworth

Ellsworth Mayor Tasha Domeyer (center) looks on Wednesday afternoon as Orv's Plumbing & Heating digs an exploratory hole in search of a leak in the water main on Maple Street. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

ELLSWORTH — A series of unfortunate events may be the best way to summarize all that Ellsworth has endured over the course of this winter.

It could also certainly explain their last couple of weeks, battling multiple water main breaks and a frozen water tower.

As of Friday morning, a water main break that had been discovered late Monday evening had been repaired. The town’s water tower had also been thawed and a water boil alert had been lifted after test results for E. coli bacteria came back negative.

According to Ellsworth Mayor Tasha Domeyer, the past week’s water troubles began Monday evening, when a water pressure issue was reported to the city.

The water main break was eventually located on Maple Street. According to Domeyer, residences along Maple Street and others within that neighborhood had their water shut off while the main was repaired.

The water main break wasn’t the full extent of last week’s problems. In fact, it helped lead to the discovery that the water tower was frozen and had only about 6 feet of water remaining in the 110,000-plus gallon tower.

Domeyer says it’s guessed that the events may be attributed to a variety of causes. She added that it’s believed that the tower froze sometime Monday, and as people naturally used less water in the evening, the pressure built and busted the main.

“The city had put an agitator in this summer in hopes this wouldn’t happen,” Domeyer said. “But it’s freezing in the cylinder below the agitator.”

That may be because the tower no longer has the windbreak protection the brick city hall building had once provided prior to it burning down in mid-January.

According to Domeyer, a professional service from the St. Paul area came down and blasted a steam jetter to melt the ice in the tower.

In the meantime, Ellsworth Fire Department members went door-to-door Tuesday evening distributing bottled water to residents. Residents were also able to pick up water at the fire hall on Wednesday and request delivery if needed.

The water main break and frozen tower also caused Ellsworth Public Schools to cancel on Tuesday.

This week’s tower freezing and water main break is a more serious outcome than a similar break and frozen tower the city endured a couple of weeks ago. Those were thankfully caught before causing too much damage, Domeyer said.

The latest events just add to what seems like an ongoing list of misfortunes that Domeyer said she’s sad to say that residents have become used to. But she tries to balance being realistic with having a sense of humor.

“There isn’t much you can do to prevent it,” she said. “There are some little things, but when Mother Nature wants to have her tantrum, then you just deal with what happens with it.”