Monday September 01, 2014

Cold plays havoc with water services


City workers dig up Seventh Avenue near Broadway March 6 to repair a water main break.

Yorkton’s public works crews have been unusually busy this winter.

As of March 6, there were 75 complaints of residential water service freezes compared three to five in a normal winter. During the first weekend of March alone there were 15. They have also started to see an increase in the number of sanitary sewer services freezing, said Dave Putz, city manager.

“It’s strictly a function of the cold weather and how deep the frost is going,” he said. “How deep frost goes is dictated by snow cover and other things too. It’s a combination of factors.”

This year’s relatively low snowfall combined with the sustained arctic chill made for perfect conditions for deep penetration of frost.

The City was even forced to buy a second piece of equipment called a “Steam Jenny,” Putz explained. The purchase only cost the City $2,800, but it was a necessity to keep up with the calls, although the top bureaucrat said public works has yet to have to add any new shifts.

The City also saw its first water main break of the season last not unusual

It’s actually our only break right now, so from a break perspective, right at this given point in time, we’re not in too bad a shape,” Putz said. “It’s not unusual to have one break.”

What worries city officials, though, is the potential impact of the spring thaw.

“The majority of breaks occur later in spring when the temperature starts to get up into the neighbourhood of 10 degrees and actually the worst thing that can occur for us is if it stays really cold and then in a couple of days time, it all of a sudden moves up to 10 degrees and stays there, because then we could have numerous breaks,” Putz explained.

Unfortunatley, whether a busy winter for maintenance crews turns into a busy spring is in the hands of Mother Nature.

“It’s all dependent on the weather,” Putz said. “The best scenario for us is when the temperature gradually warms up.”



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