City crews continued working Wednesday morning to repair a series of water breaks that happened following Saskatoon’s first blast of cold temperatures heading into this winter.
Nine water mains broke between about noon Monday and into Tuesday morning.
Russ Munro, City of Saskatoon director of water and waste stream, spoke about the issue Wednesday morning on The Brent Loucks Show.
He said it comes down to the impact of Saskatoon’s cooler climate, which sees ground shift when temperatures drop, causing .
“Mother Nature’s pretty difficult to fight. So, it is a reality of where we live,” Munro said of the latest spate of breaks.
While older cast iron pipes are a bit more susceptible to breaks, Munro said shifting ground can snap water mains both old and new.
“It’s not necessarily that they’re older pipes. In fact, some of the pipes we have in the city are over 100 years old and have never broken,” he said.
Munro said the city typically expects about 180 to 200 water main breaks in an average winter. While some can be major ruptures that flood streets with water, Munro said other breaks can be the result of a small pinhole leak getting bigger as a result of shifting ground.
Either way, the breaches require workers to dig up the affected piece of pipe to make repairs, which can range from replacing an entire section of pipe, to simply clamping a sleeve over a smaller leak.
Once repaired Munro said the mains have to be flushed and then water quality has to be tested before service can be restored. He said the entire process typically takes between 24 and 48 hours.
Munro said work was on track at the nine latest breaks, including one on a particularly busy portion of 25th Street East in downtown Saskatoon.
“That pipe actually went in in 1970, it’s a steel pipe and this is the first time that particular pipe running straight down the section of 25th has broken,” Munro said.
Twenty-fifth Street East remained closed between 3rd Avenue North and 5th Avenue North Wednesday morning. Munro said repair work was complete, with crews in the process of flushing out the line and performing water quality checks. The road was expected to re-open on schedule Thursday morning.
The 25th Street break also caused a drinking water advisory at City Hospital. Munro said the hospital is fed by three different water mains and was expected to be able to return to normal Wednesday, pending some water quality tests.
Another water main break on Avenue D North caused Caswell Community School to cancel classes Tuesday and Wednesday.
Munro acknowledged that the area can be prone to breaks, but said this had been the first on that particular stretch of Avenue D.
“There’s been some breaks south of there, but this is first time that section itself has broken — and that pipe itself was installed in 1910.”
Munro said repair work on the break affecting Caswell School was also proceeding on time.