PARIS — Foreigner’s lyrics, “You’re as cold as ice,” unfortunately rang true for the Paris police station over the past three weeks as the sewer lines and waterlines froze three times, leaving employees mostly unable to use water until a holding tank was rented.

At their meeting Monday night, selectmen voted 3-1 to discontinue the existing sewer lines and waterlines and dig a trench to run new lines to the main connection on Church Street, with funding included as part of the current budget cycle.

Voting for the motion were Board of Selectmen Chairman Ryan Lorrain, Vice Chairman Robert Wessels and Selectman Sam Elliot. Selectman Janet Jamison voted against the resolution, not because she opposed the project, but because it wouldn’t be done until after July 1 and she didn’t want it put off.

Bernard asked for three different quotes for the project from local excavators, which weren’t in by Monday’s meeting. It is estimated that the project will cost between $12,000 and $14,000.

“It’s pretty self-evident that we have a large issue there, and this has been occurring over the last 10 years,” Town Manager Amy Bernard said Monday. “We still do not have water connection to the main (line). We’re now operating off a 325-gallon holding tank that’s being filled up twice a week by the Fire Department until the thaw.”

The holding tank rental cost the town $150.

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Bernard informed selectmen through her manager’s report at the Feb. 23 meeting that the Police Department’s sewer line behind the Town Office froze over President’s Day weekend. Act Now Plumbing was able to get the line open within 24 hours. But since the waterline at the Police Department wasn’t used, that line froze.

Two different plumbers were unsuccessful and the Paris Utility District helped the town unfreeze the waterline on Feb. 27, according to Monday’s manager’s report. The town hired Wayne Kennagh Excavating to dig through five feet of permafrost to reach the waterline connection to the PUD main waterline. Bernard said after the meeting that the bills for all of the work associated with the issue haven’t come in yet.

The water line froze again — even with PUD Manager Steve Arnold’s recommendation to run an outside spigot to keep it from freezing and leaving the building’s water running — when the temperature plummeted to -11 degrees. Then the waterline froze a third time on March 1. Police personnel are able to use the toilets and are drinking bottled water for the time being.

According to Bernard, members of the Police Department told her there’s been line-freezing issues three times over the past decade. They were told when the waterlines and sewer lines were laid in 1997 that they weren’t insulated so they freeze in extreme cold.

“There are conflicting reports that it is insulated, but when you’re digging it up, there isn’t any there,” Bernard said about insulation around the lines.

Two other problems that most likely contributed to the town’s line-freezing woes is that the sewer line is too long to properly drain the toilet, and the area where the lines froze is near the dry catch basins by the tree in the library parking lot.

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“They’re not flushing the toilet enough to make the water go 174 feet (to the end of the sewer line),” Bernard said about police personnel. “They’re not running the sink enough to reach that distance.” 

She explained why dry catch basins could have exacerbated the problem.

“It collects water and then it seeps into the ground and then it freezes — so those pipes are presumably sitting on that frozen water, which doesn’t help when it gets extremely cold,” Bernard said.

The Budget Committee will tackle the funding issue for the project at its next meeting, 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Office at 33 Market Square.

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