March 5, 2014 6:30 pm

Water woes for south side residents

LETHBRIDGE: The cold weather is leading to more problems in Lethbridge with water main breaks.

Crews are busy repairing the latest one on 9th Avenue south and they’re having a tough go of it.

“The frost is down about five-feet deep right now and it takes us quite a while to get down to the leak to repair it and very time consuming,” says the city’s Water and Waste Water Manager, Don Bullpitt.

Usually this time of year the frost is three to four-feet deep.

The extreme cold we’ve experienced has put added pressure on public works.

Since the weekend, there have been seven water main breaks with three still being repaired.

Homes along 6th, 9th and 21st Avenues south are all out of water

Map Leth Water Main Breaks

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While repairs are being hampered by the cold, it’s also what caused the problem in the first place.

The aging infrastructure is starting to buckle under the bitter cold temperatures. Some of the cast iron pipes are upwards of 100-years-old.

“Part of the problem right now is the temperature of the water. It’s causing the pipes to contract which causes joint leaks and if there was no bolts left on the pipe’s themselves, what happens is the joints will leak,” adds Bullpitt.

Mike Raeburn lives along 6th Avenue south. He’s been using the emergency water supply set up by the city and says the situation is frustrating.

“I can’t do laundry, I can’t shower,  I can’t do the dishes, I can’t use the bathroom properly.”

The city has set up three temporary water tanks, but resident say it isn’t exactly convenient.

“You go three or four times a day because all you have is a little bucket, it’s crazy and it’s a major mess when you try get the water because it’s very slippery,” says Raeburn.

City officials have plans in place to reduce the number of burst pipes but say with unpredictable weather, those plans do change.

“We do have a water main renewal program. We renew approximately 2.2 kilometres of water mains each year that have been identified through our programs as needed,” adds Bullpitt.

There are about  30 workers  working on the repairs. Officials are optimistic they’ll be completed within the next 24 hours.

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