The City of Calgary is experiencing a significant influx of calls about water main breaks and frozen services. Due to recent extreme winter temperatures, the frost level in Calgary has moved to a depth of 2.4m (8ft). This can cause some water pipes and service lines to freeze, resulting in water outages for Calgary residents and business owners.
The city has received more than 80 calls related to frozen water services since March 1, 2019. In 2018, the city received a total of 10 calls. City crews are working extended hours to get service back to citizens as soon as possible.
“We are unfortunately dealing with unusual and extreme winter circumstances,” said Chris Huston, manager of drinking water distribution with the City of Calgary. “We’re doing all we can to maximize our operational capacity, ensure citizens have access to water – and ultimately get services up as quickly as possible.”
The increase in call volumes about frozen water services and main breaks has created a backlog of repairs to address. City crews are working hard to alleviate the backlog, aiming to repair services within one week. However, this is highly variable due to the nature of the work. Each incident and each pipe is unique.
“Once crews are on site, the time to thaw can range anywhere from two hours to upwards of 12 hours,” said Huston. We are not always successful on the first try.”
While water wagons are provided to water main break incidents, the city is unable to provide water wagons to individual residences for frozen pipes. In lieu, once the city is notified of an issue, a city employee will reach out to the affected citizen or business as soon as possible to arrange a customer care package. Packages include access to both potable and non-potable water as well as recreation passes to access shower facilities.