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EXTREME COLD TEMPERATURES AFFECTING UNDERGROUND WATER MAINS 

For Immediate Release: March 3, 2014
TU14-171

This weekend, temperatures dropped to minus 50 degrees Celsius with the wind chill overnight, causing the ground frost to move even deeper.  The ground frost level is deeper than normal, and the colder the temperature is, the more pressure it puts on the underground pipes, causing them to shift.  If there is already a weak spot in the pipe, caused by age, corrosion or previous work, it can break.

A high number of water main breaks occurred this past weekend, keeping staff extremely busy.  From Friday evening at 9:00 p.m. until Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m., 15 water main breaks occurred.  In addition, a break occurred on the connection pipe at Brevoort Park School, requiring a private contractor for the repair.  This activity is well above the average of one-two per day for this time of year. 

Be prepared
This elevated rate of water main breaks is anticipated to level off this week, but will still remain higher than normal for this time of year.  Residents in areas where water main breaks have occurred in the past few years, including neighbourhoods adjacent to current water main breaks, are encouraged to be prepared by having extra drinking water stored as a precaution.  The recommended supply of water to have on hand for a 72-hour period is 3.8 litres (one gallon) per person or pet per day.

Frozen water connections
Home owners are also reporting frozen water connections, where there is a blockage on the water connection from the City’s water main to the private home.  If your water does not turn on, it may be an issue with the private portion of your water connection.  If there is an issue on the City portion, we will come out and use specialized equipment to defrost the line from your home.  To help prevent this, we recommend making sure the pipes are well-insulated, including the portion at the outside walls of your home.

Current water main breaks
All available staff and contractors are focussed on isolating the location of the breaks, preparing the sites for excavation (identifying any underground utilities or hazards), and repairing the pipes.  Different expertise is required at each stage of repairing a water main break, so even if no workers are present, each location is scheduled and will be repaired as quickly as possible.  

Water service is currently off at the following locations:
•   74 Phillips Crescent (water trailer on-site)
•   2421 Ewart Avenue (water trailer on-site)
•   500 block of 6th Street East (water trailer on-site)
•   1300 7th Avenue North (water trailer on-site)
•   2903 Ferguson Avenue
•   Diefenbaker Drive between Fairlight Drive and 22nd Street West
•   300 Bate Crescent
•   1326 Ave Y North
•   3225 11th Street West
•   141 Pacific Avenue
•   21 Bow Court

Residents and businesses in affected areas can access drinking water from an emergency water supply trailer located nearby until the service is restored.  Instructions for use are located near the spout.  The City operates four water trailers; once the water is restored to an area, the trailer is relocated as required.  We make every effort to make a water trailer available within eight hours of the water being shut off.  However, with the number of water main breaks we are currently experiencing, this time will be extended.

We want to thank everyone for their cooperation and understanding.  We will do our best to restore water service within 48 hours of turning it off, but the extreme cold can affect equipment and the amount of time that workers can be outside.  If you are affected by a water outage and have any questions, or to report a water main break, please call the Public Works customer service call centre 24/7 at 306-975-2476.  For information about the Precautionary Drinking Water Advisory that is in effect when the water is turned back on, visit saskatoon.ca and select W for Water Advisory.

Emergency preparedness information is available on the Government of Canada’s public safety website getprepared.gc.ca, including further recommendations for an emergency water supply.

For more City of Saskatoon Public Service Announcements, News Releases, Traffic Detours and Service Alerts, visit www.saskatoon.ca or connect with the City of Saskatoon on Twitter and Facebook from the links at saskatoon.ca.

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