MAQUOKETA, Iowa — The cities of Maquoketa, Preston and Delmar are asking residents to let their faucets run continuously to keep their service lines from freezing up.

Jeff Bodenhofer, Alliance Water Resources manager in Maquoketa, said there have been 11 water main breaks since the first one on Jan. 1.

The most recent was Thursday on Eddy Place, Eddy Street and Erie Street. It's the third time city crews have shut off water to that area in the past few days.

"It broke on the north end of the street, at the middle and now at the south end," Bodenhofer said.

It's taking about five hours for a hydraulic hammer to get through the nearly four feet of frost, he said. Overall, the average time to fix the leak is eight hours, much higher than normal, he said.

All three communities are asking residents to run one faucet inside the house continuously with a small amount of water. Officials are saying the stream of water needs to be the width of the lead in a pencil. It should run all day and all night.

Preston officials said the running water may need to continue through March.

"I'm told the warm weather will drive the frost deeper and may cause more problems," Laurie Ganzer, Delmar city clerk said.

Bodenhofer said there are a couple of areas near Maquoketa businesses and some random service lines near residents that already are frozen.

One of the difficulties for the Maquoketa crews is their leak locator has not been working well.

During a special Maquoketa City Council Utility Committee meeting Tuesday, members approved buying a new leak locator at a cost of $3,500.

"I hope it gets here today," Bodenhofer said.

Many times, water is coming out of the ground several feet from where the water main is broken.

"I was off 20 feet from where I thought it was the other day," he said.