City crews dealt with waterline breaks New Year’s weekend

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Winter weather can take its tole on a wide range of things, and it’s starting to cause damage to underground infrastructure in the city.
In the late evening of Saturday, Jan. 2, a homeowner on Central Avenue noticed water coming up from his front yard. A call was made to the city, and a municipal crew was dispatched to investigate.
The cause of the water was a broken waterline. Just before midnight an excavator and a crew arrived at the Central Avenue address. Shortly after midnight on Sunday, Jan. 3, the excavator began digging to uncover the broken waterline.
The crew was done a little after 6 a.m. on Sunday.
The break on Central Ave. was on the down side of the street and if not corrected it could have damaged a homeowner’s basement, so it was dealt with immediately, says Daryl Halloch, Elliot Lake director of public works.
However, the pipe on Central did not have to be replaced. They were able to seal the break with a pipe clamp, he says.
While it is more common to have waterlines break when it is very cold, it does happen in milder temperatures as well, he explains.
“As cars drive along, they are pushing the frost down, which does things to these pipes.
“There’s always movement at this time of year and that’s where we get the breaks.
“This frost causes the ground to shift, which in turn causes older underground infrastructure (water pipes) to sometimes break, which results in a watermain break.”
The city experienced two other waterline breaks on Saturday, one was on Mississauga Avenue and the other on Hirshhorn Avenue. However, after inspecting those breaks they were not as serious. As a result, the work on Mississauga Ave. was done on Monday, while the break on Hirshhorn Ave. was expected to be dealt with on Tuesday.


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What to do if notice a waterline break

Photo by KEVIN McSHEFFREY/THE STANDARDIn the wee hours of Sunday morning, a city crew spent most of the night working on a broken waterline on Central Avenue in Elliot Lake. The crew spent more than six hours at the site.

Most residents in the area of a waterline break will notice their cold water becoming discoloured and a possible loss of pressure, depending on the size of break, explains Halloch.
“Residents should refrain from running their hot water to prevent any of the discoloured water from entering their hot water tanks, which is more of an inconvenience, as it could possibly stain any future laundry being washed or cause your bath water to have a yellowish colour to it.
“If the break is bad enough and residents happen to draw a lot of dirty water into the hot water tank, they can drain it and refill it to get rid of the discolored water.”
If residents run a cold water tap in the house, it should clear up any discoloured water within 10 minutes or so after a watermain break.”
If a resident notices a watermain break, they are asked to call the water plant at 705-848-2287, ext. 2700 during working hours and 705-849-6713 after hours, where a water operator would assist them.
When a break is more significant and a larger piece of watermain needs to be replaced, staff shutoffs the two closest valves and put a boil water order in letters that would be handed out to the residents affected.
The majority of municipalities are the same boat when it comes to older underground infrastructure, Halloch explains.
The City of Elliot Lake has been replacing all underground infrastructure when replacing the road. The Valley/Hemlock project was the first one completed of a 10-year plan, with Pine/Poplar the next, which will be completed in 2021.
“These are costly projects, which are funded from a water/wastewater reserve which is created from resident/business water rates, he concludes.