Winnipeg faces $10M bill from broken water mains and frozen pipes

A City of Winnipeg worker investigating a water main break. Global News

WINNIPEG – City hall is still adding up the bills from dealing with last winter’s brutal cold.

Winnipeg’s water and waste department blew its water services budget by $10.33 million, due to water main breaks and frozen water lines, city staff say┬áin a report to council.

The report requests council approve the extra spending.

The city was plagued by 679 water main breaks in the first six months of 2014, staff said — a 76 per cent increase over the same period the year before.

“With extreme frost depth, each repair this winter has taken longer than it would in a typical winter. This drove up costs even further,” says the report authored by water and waste manager of finance and administration Moira Geer.

The total over-expenditure due to water main repairs was $6.015 million, which includes almost a $1 million in overtime.

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City of Winnipeg pipe thawing crew. Global News

Frozen water lines also created a budget headache. The months-long effort to thaw out thousands of lines exceeded the budget by $4.018 million.

During the coldest winter in Winnipeg since 1898, frost went as deep as nine feet below the pavement, Geer notes in her report. There were 2,596 reports of frozen pipes, and 7,320 properties had to keep their water running to avoid a similar fate.

“The frozen pipe event did not effectively end until July 2, 2014, when customers were notified they could stop running their water,” the report says.

City hall’s standing policy committee on finance will examine the report Thursday.

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