The front doors to St. Cloud City Hall and many of its municipal offices may be locked — an effort to prevent spread of COVID-19 — but there are city employees hard at work behind them, and out and about in the city, taking care of essential services.

One of them is continuing to ensure the city’s water supply is as clean as it should be.

Crews have been out this week continuing the process of “ice pigging”, where a slug of ice and brine is pumped into a section of shut-off water pipe. As the ice is forced through, it also pushes any sediment and deposits, leaving the pipe clean and the water running clear as it should. The city’s original contract with SUEZ Water & Waste Management Services went through March, but was extended into April to finish the water lines the city labeled as problems.

A crew was out Monday in the Pinewood Gardens subdivision doing the work. After flushing a line with high pressure, forcing some colored water out of the line then pushing clear water, the briny ice solution then went through the line, pushing out any remaining sediment and leaving behind crystal-clear water again.

“Even with the challenges of COVID-19, we consider the ice pigging an essential service,” City Manager Bill Sturgeon said. “We’ve had a lot of progress and momentum, we’ve completed over 30 miles of pipe and will do another 15 more with the contract extension.”

On Tuesday, the city began another process called “swabbing”, which involved cutting into pipe and running a “swab” down a large section of the pipe, which cleans sections of pipe faster. It will require 48 hours of boiling water in those areas; city of St. Cloud employees, many who are non-essential employees brought back to work, will be in the affected neighborhoods to bring information — and bottled water. More information is available here on the city’s website.

“We understand the concerns that this is happening while we also battle COVID-19, but this has been an ongoing issue for the city and the City Council,” Sturgeon said. “We have Suez here, so we want to continue the momentum of working toward having fresh, clean drinking water and providing citizens with the quality of life they expect.”

The city wants to hear from customers who are still seeing discolored water, particles, or low pressure after ice pigging is completed. If so, contact the Customer Service Department at 407-957-7344.