Saskatoon water main breaks add to extreme cold misery
By noon, City of Saskatoon officials dispatched crews to four water main breaks, including one that spewed countless litres of water near McKercher Drive and 8th Street.
The overnight break caused at least one vehicle to be stuck in the ice, while a pickup truck owner told Global News the ice led to a fender-bender collision.
The city also dealt with a break along Preston Avenue and one in the Buena Vista neighbourhood.
One apartment building and 47 houses and were impacted by the water outages.
The breaks occurred as temperatures fluctuated between the mid minus-20 and minus-40 degrees Celsius Thursday and Friday.
Pipes typically fail in one of three ways: frost causing ground to shift, corrosion weakening old pipes and system disruptions from excess usage, according to Russ Munro, the city’s director of water and waste operations.
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“It’s one of those things that when it gets really cold, the frost starts to penetrate a little bit deeper,” Munro said.
Munro identified two other breaks that weren’t affecting any customers.
“Once we’ve got everything excavated and repaired, we do our reporting … and we continue to analyze those breaks, so we can select our long-term capital treatments more effectively,” Munro said.
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Since Jan. 1, 2019, the city has grappled with 19 water main breaks, compared to the 24-year average of 40 breaks for the same time period. In 2018, the city experienced 48 breaks during that time.
According to the city’s service standards, water main breaks should be repaired and pressure restored within 48 hours.
The city aims to provide an alternative water source to affected homes within eight hours of a break.
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