Ely has called a "Water Main Emergency," requesting people to run a pencil-width size of water continuously from one sink until spring as crews scramble around-the-clock to thaw frozen lines.

More than 300 miles south, Winona Water Superintendent Bob Dunn said five feet of frost has led to three times the record number of water-service freeze-ups he's seen in his 20-plus years on the job. 

"We had 38 homes lose service in 2008 and require plumbers and welders to get their water going," Dunn said. "This year. we've got 94."

The long, cold winter and deep frost are the problem. About 26 people on Hckory Lane in eastern Winona were without water until 10:30 p.m. Monday when Dunn said "we cracked a valve" to get those households' water flowing "so people could wash their dishes and take showers.". His crews were still digging Tuesday around a fire hydrant lead and service might be suspended again until repairs are made.

A separate so-called private line between Winona High School and the city's water main busted on Monday, but school was out for the holiday and repairs were made by 5:30 p.m. and school was back in session -- with water -- on Tuesday. Crews used jackhammers to get through the frost to the broken pipe.

Ely officials say they are first trying to thaw water mains to provide continual fire protection. Customer line thawing is being handled on a  first-come basis. Water and sewer bill adjustments will be made in Ely, when officials will take average winter usages from previous years to calculate expenses during the Water Main Emergency.