Water trouble continues at an incredible rate

Tyler Clarke
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Public works director Colin Innes explains the water break situation to city council at Monday’s meeting. 

The numbers show that Prince Albert’s water woes are happening at an incredible rate compared with city averages.


So far this winter, 87 water and sewer lines have frozen, Mayor Greg Dionne told city council at Monday’s meeting, noting that this dwarfs the city’s average of about 15.

“We’ve repaired 22, we have 55 left,” he explained. “We have engaged two private contractors who are working 14 hours a day to assist us in this matter.”

The city has responded to 36 water main breaks so far this winter, Dionne said, noting that the city’s average is about 20.

With the water main break crew the same one that works on frozen lines, Dionne said, “It will be some time before we get caught up.”

On top of that, he anticipates seeing things get worse before they get better, noting that with the frost line 9.5 feet down, it’s reached the depth of some water mains.

“What concerns me is that, with our aging infrastructure, with this frost coming up how many of these lines are going to be water breaks?” Dionne asked.

“I think we’ve peaked with the frozen lines -- We’re getting less and less calls each day, but the department’s concern, and my concern, is what’s going to happen when the frost comes up?”

Public works director Colin Innes said that the best thing for the public to do at this point is to phone the city at 953-4900 whenever they spot a water break or note that their water or sewer lines stop working.

We have engaged two private contractors who are working 14 hours a day to assist us in this matter Greg Dionne

They can also submit concerns through the online incident reporter available at www.citypa.ca, or phone the after-hours emergency line at 953-4284.

After Coun. Miller noted that one household had been without water for three weeks -- a problem Innes said has recently been resolved -- Coun. Lee Atkinson noted that if these things can’t be repaired in a more timely manner, there must be something the city can do to lessen the blow.

“Two or three weeks without water, I can’t imagine how difficult that must be,” he said.

“I think adding insult to injury would be after three weeks of no water, no flushing, no showers or baths, to finally get your water bill and have infrastructure charge and meter charge and all those costs.”

As per council’s wishes, city administration will also look into updating its public communications process in dealing with water main breaks and frozen water and sewer lines.

Innes said that the city’s water main break and frozen water and sewer line repair effort will be over-budget this year, though it’s currently unclear as to by how much.

Within the city’s now-approved 2014 budget is $609,000 in uncommitted money -- a cache Dionne said might help pay for the department’s shortfall. 

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