City offers showers to residents with frozen pipes

WINNIPEG – The number of homes with no water due to frozen pipes is increasing dramatically, faster than city crews can thaw them out.

Officials revealed Monday that 537 properties are now on the waiting list to have their pipes thawed, a jump from 300 a week ago as bitterly cold temperatures maintain their grip on the city and frost reaches deeper into the ground.

Homeowners could have to wait up to two weeks to have their water service restored, the city said.

“We understand the hardship they’re going through right now, whether it’s five days or 14 days without water is definitely a hardship on any family in the city,” said Mayor Sam Katz. “The fact it’s happening throughout North America doesn’t make you feel any better.”

The city offered free access Monday to shower facilities at its 12 indoor pools, for all residents with no water due to frozen pipes:

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• Bonivital – 1215 Archibald St.
• Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex – 999 Sargent Ave.
• Eldon Ross – 1887 Pacific Ave. W.
• Elmwood Kildonans – 909 Concordia Ave.
• Margaret Grant – 685 Dalhousie Dr.
• North Centennial Recreation and Leisure Facility – 90 Sinclair St.
• Pan Am – 25 Poseidon Bay
• Seven Oaks – 444 Adsum Dr.
• St. James Assiniboia Centennial – 644 Parkdale St.
• St. James Civic Centre – 2055 Ness Ave.
• Transcona Centennial – 1101 Wabasha St.
• Bernie Wolfe – 95 Bournais Dr.

City crews are also hooking up hoses from homes without water to outside taps on neighbouring homes that do have water, provided the taps aren’t frozen.

There’s no quick end to the city’s frozen pipe woes. Frost will remain in the ground until as late as June, and “those water pipes at risk of freezing will remain vulnerable over the next few months,” officials said.

“I don’t want to say it’s a crisis because we have plans in place,” said water services manager Diane Sacher. “We have reactive measures, we’ve got pro-active measures. It’s an emergency from the standpoint of we’ve got all available resources in our department working on it; we’ve pulled in from other departments.”

The city said its three electrical thawing machines are working seven days a week, and two more have been ordered for evaluation. The computerized machines run electrical current into the ground to thaw pipes and are equipped with automatic shutoffs for safety, city officials said. Similar machines are not available to be rented, they said.

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