October 28th, 2020

City offers preparedness tips in case of a watermain break


By Mabell, Dave on December 24, 2019.

A City of Lethbridge crew works at repairing a watermain break Monday morning along 18A Street North. The incidence of watermain breaks typically increases as the temperature drops. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

They happen year-round. But Lethbridge residents can expect more watermain breaks over the winter – especially during a cold snap.

So it pays to be prepared, officials say.

Leanne Lammertsen, operations manager for the City’s water and wastewater utilities, says crews aim to repair the line and return service within 24 hours of it being reported.

But first, she says, officials attempt to let people know about the unexpected outage.

City of Lethbridge personnel go door-to-door to urge residents to fill pails and other containers before the watermain valves are shut.

When there’s no response, she adds, they leave a notice hanging on the front door handle.

Crews also bring a mobile water supply for people affected by the break. The emergency water supply tanks are heated in winter months, Lammertsen adds.

Watermain breaks occur more often in older parts of the city, she says. And they typically increase as the temperature falls.

Last February was a particularly difficult month, she notes, with its prolonged cold spell.

During 2018, officials say, crews responded to 43 watermain breaks. So far this year – thanks largely to a frigid February – there have been 86 breaks.

The water utility has five crews ready to respond to reports of a break, Lammertsen says. And this year, they have new equipment to make excavation easier in the cold.

When crews are scrambling to keep up, she adds, personnel from other departments can help out.

City residents can play a role as well, Lammertsen says. If they see water seeping up through pavement, they should report it by phone at 311.

For local residents, an unusual drop in water pressure is another sign of pipe failure.

Lammertsen says it’s also important to have some clean pails available to carry water from the emergency supply – and to have a plan for dealing with the inconvenience of no running hot water and limited supplies of cold.

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