Water main breaks have skyrocketed in Regina this year.
The average number of water main breaks in August is 20, but the city beat that with 112 breaks last month, which is an all-time high.
Now the city is on track to beat September’s record, which, in 2012, was 115.
Pat Wilson, director of waterworks for the city, said so far this month they’ve had 40 water main breaks at an average of seven to 10 a day.
“In the last number of years, we have faced this situation. In the past, we have had large numbers of breaks that have been running but we plan for it and we are prepared for it,” Wilson said.
Wilson said crews are working overtime and on weekends to evaluate breaks and tend to ones of the highest priority.
“Crews are fixing the breaks at a faster rate than in the past and continue to make progress and improve,” she continued.
When it comes to priority streets, Wilson said it depends on the water line as some blocks have seen multiple breaks.
“One of the things that is a challenge is once we disturb the ground and then we have to compact the soil that can also have an impact on the line, so we could see a secondary break partly caused by fixing the first break,” Wilson said.
She said she expects this activity to taper off a bit later into fall as temperatures come down in October. She said the fall weather can be good because crews aren’t fighting freezing conditions.
“We still have relatively long days, so we’re able to get out there and have some daylight to help us. These conditions are challenging, the ground is very hard and dry but we’re able to get in and get them fixed, so fall is a better time to be doing this work than January,” Wilson said.
When the city is this dry, frost can enter the soil a lot faster so the city will be watching conditions closely.
“If we see a very, very cold winter with not a lot of snow cover on top of the dry soil there is certainly a chance that will have an impact on our break in the winter and potentially on frozen lines,” Wilson said.
The city has dealt with this before so they’ve done some protective work on lines that are vulnerable to freezing in the winter to allow crews to address problems.
Wilson said the city appreciates the public’s patience while crews continue to fix water main breaks.
“Residents are a big part of this success, we’d like to thank you for keeping us informed. It helps us plan and make sure we’re fixing the most important and serious breaks first,” Wilson said.
Residents are encouraged to call 306-777-7000 if their house has no running water, there’s a new leak or there are changing conditions to an existing leak.
Wilson said the city is still relatively on target when it comes to the water main break budget. It costs roughly $14,000 to fix a water main break.
At last count, the city had spent $1.8 million dollars on the growing problem that has been caused by all the recent dry weather.