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Water main breaks rising across Saskatchewan

With a frigid winter dragging on to spring, an alarming number of water main breaks are disrupting daily activities throughout Saskatchewan.
With a frigid winter dragging on to spring, an alarming number of water main breaks are disrupting daily activities throughout Saskatchewan. Derek Putz

With a frigid winter dragging on to spring, an alarming number of water main breaks are disrupting daily activities throughout Saskatchewan.

In Moose Jaw, crews are cleaning up after a crumbling, faulty valve caused the city’s 30th water main break of 2018 on Easter Sunday.

“We did set a record in 2017 of 116 breaks, so it’s ahead of last year’s pace, which isn’t exactly encouraging, but it’s where we’re at,” Moose Jaw communications director Craig Hemingway said.

“It’s hard to plan ahead. They know how to deal with a water main break and they’re certainly prepared to react to any new ones that spring up, but yes, there will be others.”

“There was a mini-waterfall by the house in front of the break,” resident Dennis Auger said. “The water was gushing out and going around the block.”

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Three days later, part of the neighbourhood remains under a boil water advisory.

It’s part of a difficult spring that has seen break numbers balloon across the province.

So far this year, Saskatoon has reported 110 water main breaks and 75 frozen service connections.

Regina has seen 115 breaks, while Prince Albert is slightly ahead of past years at 14.

On March 28, a massive break brought Weyburn to a standstill, cancelling classes, shuttering business, and even postponing surgeries at Weyburn General Hospital.

READ MORE: Weyburn water main break shuts down city

In Moose Jaw, residents say they appreciate the City’s efforts to remedy the situation, but lament the boil water advisories and traffic snarls that come with it.

“The most frustrating thing is driving down the street. ‘Oh, there’s a barricade there’. You make a left turn, and three to four blocks later you have another one,” Auger said. “It’s like a puzzle.”

Another neighbour, Richard Dowson, is keeping spirits high as he looks toward spring.

“I think everybody’s kind of up against it. The winter has been very long and cold, and if my senior friends have anything to say, it’s ‘I’m tired of winter’.”

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan town has to borrow water

While repairs continue, Moose Jaw is also preparing for the third phase of a $5.9 million water main replacement to break ground. The project aims to replace 2.7 kilometres of outdated water mains by the end of the year.

The city will host an information session for residents who will be affected by the work Tuesday evening.

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