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Cold temperatures to blame for increase in watermain breaks this winter?

By Rachel Schoutsen
Presenter, The Weather Network
Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 8:59 AM

We have all become too familiar with the polar vortex this year and it has been bothering more than just exposed skin.

Water main breaks have been a term we hear all too often. The gushing water closes intersections, floods streets, damages homes and leaves dangerous icy patches.

Why so many this year?

Cold, old pipes, vibrations. Check out how the city of Calgary explains the breaks.

Bev Kurmey Sr. Communications Coordinator for the City of Toronto notes that January 1 to March 6, the City of Toronto has repaired 874 watermain breaks, received 1,957 no-water calls and repaired 491 leaking water services. In 2013, about 1,500 watermain breaks were recorded for the entire year.

The number of breaks have been high this year and the issue is a problem across the country. Saskatoon has seen 102 breaks this year and in Winnipeg about 600 homes are waiting for their pipes to thaw.

Andy Hughes, Water Services for The City of Calgary, comments “We see double the amount of watermain breaks in the winter time however, Calgary has a low number of watermain breaks compared to other similar sized Municipalities.”

Calgary has seen about 50 breaks this winter. Not a very high number, but nonetheless the issue is present.

Edmonton also sees more breaks in the winter time. Main streets, like 97, have been shut down to deal with flooding and clean up. Some situations even lasting days or weeks.

The City of Toronto always tries to react fast when a watermain break is called in. Kurmey explains, “Toronto Water staff are immediately dispatched to determine the location and severity of the break. First response is typically to isolate or close the effected watermain and then homeowners are told of the issue and repair schedule. Staff will then excavate to expose the broken watermain and clean and dewater the area surrounding the break. Depending on the severity of the break, the watermain may be repaired by using a repair clamp or by replacing the deteriorated section of pipe.”

The average cost to fix a watermain break in Toronto is about $8,000.

Here is a recap of the breaks Toronto saw in the past years:

  • Total breaks in 2010- 1,283
  • Total breaks in 2011- 1,610
  • Total breaks in 2012- 1,095
  • Total breaks in 2013- 1,500

The breaks have been affecting drivers, home owners and even companies.

If you see a watermain break do not drive in the area. You could get caught in the flooding you can hurt yourself, as well as damage your vehicle.

Watermain break, Waterloo Ontario from Twitter

Watermain break, Waterloo Ontario from Twitter

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