Cold spell wreaks havoc with water lines across...
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Mar 03, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Cold spell wreaks havoc with water lines across city

Stratford Gazette

Jeff Heuchert

When he spoke with the Gazette Monday, Tyler Maxwell was on day five without any water service at his home, the pipes frozen after a sustained period of colder-than-usual temperatures.

He woke up last Thursday morning to find the taps dry, and since then was collecting snow in his bathtub to use for cleaning dishes and flushing the toilet, while showering either at the gym or at work.

“It’s been brutal … but I’m finding it not as difficult as some other people,” he said, noting there are older residents in the neighborhood who might not be able to adjust so easily.

Maxwell lives near the corner of West Gore and Downie streets, an older neighbourhood where the homes’ water services can be more susceptible to the effects of a prolonged cold spell.

According to Ed Dujlovic, Stratford’s director of infrastructure and development services, at last count the city had received about 170 phone calls about frozen water supply lines. As a result, the waiting list to have the city come out and either hook up a temporary water connection or thaw the pipes is five to six days.

“We’ve got crews in seven days a week right now,” he noted. “We’ve got public works staff helping out the water department wherever they can.”

Dujlovic said the city has been slowed in its response due to the high number of water main breaks. There have been 12 so far this winter, three alone on Monday.

“We’ve had to pull crews from thawing services to deal with water main breaks,” he noted. “Unfortunately we have everything going on at the same time.”

Water main breaks occur when the water in the ground freezes and expands, putting downward pressure on the pipes.

“The longer it’s colder the frost keeps getting deeper. It’s four to four and a half feet deep,” Dujlovic noted.

The director said the city would be bringing in a contractor this week to assist with water main repairs to free up municipal workers so that they can deal with more frozen services at homes.

The city sends out reminders in the mail to those homeowners whose properties have historically had problems with frozen services, asking them to keep their faucets running.

Dujlovic said a steady flow about the thickness of a pencil should help prevent the lines from freezing.

The city gives these homeowners a break on their monthly bill by charging them an average of their water consumption.

Despite the challenges, Maxwell has maintained a positive outlook on the situation. He did, after all, go one day this winter without any heat after his furnace stopped working.

“And one day without heat was worse than this past week without water,” he said.

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