Advisory of the Day
SASKATOON,SK: COLD SNAP, SHIFTING SOIL AND BROKEN WATER MAINS LEAD TO PRECAUTIONARY DRINKING WATER ADVISORY IN SASKATOON HOSPITAL
This story is brought to you in part by Proteus Waters
A recent wave of cold temperatures that passed through Saskatoon has created some headaches for public works crews. On November 7, the City of Saskatoon announced on their website that on Monday and Tuesday "there were 9 water main breaks across the city, resulting in water service interruptions in most cases."
One of the nine breaks caused a Precautionary Drinking Water Advisory (PDWA) to be issued for Saskatoon City Hospital. In a release on the Saskatoon Health Region website, it was said that "no tap water will be used in sterile procedures or surgeries." The hospital brought in alternative sources to continue their operations and contacted patients if there would be any delay in their procedures.
To gain a better understanding of what is happening on the ground we contacted the Director of Water & Waste Stream for Saskatoon, Russ Munro.
Munro explained that the break on 25th street, the one that a garnered all the media attention "is one of the three feeds to [City] Hospital."
The City "always prioritizes [repair work] based on a number of factors," Munro said, "the number of people served by the water main, the size, what the priority of the road network is, and more importantly what is serviced by the water main."
City Hospital was given a high priority in relation to the other breaks. Munro said, "of those nine breaks, most of them have been repaired." Munro added that "there have been four new breaks that have occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday, one of those has been repaired already."
"We are sitting with six breaks right now, four, if not more will be repaired Thursday," Munro said.
Amanda Purcell, Media Relations Specialist for the Saskatoon Health Region confirmed that City Hospital was under a PDWA and that "bottled water was brought in to ensure that procedures and surgeries could continue." She added that "delays during this time were very minimal, although a few patients were impacted."
Munro said Saskatoon will see "between 180 to 220 water main breaks in a given year, and that is very weather dependent." He explained, "if we have very little snow cover and very cold temperatures going into February early March we get deep frost penetration into the ground that will lead to water main breaks."
Munro added that "we do have some soil conditions that change around the city, we had a very dry summer [so] clay contracting has led to a couple of water main breaks in those areas."
"The other major cause we see is corrosion," Munro said, "we have about 230 km of lead pipe remaining in the distribution system which is slowly being replaced or lined as required." Replacement is only for affected infrastructure Munro added that "we have pipes that are over [one] hundred years old that are still in great shape."
This year the City of Saskatoon embarked on Water Main, Sanitary Lining and Lead Water Pipe Replacement Initiative, which is described on the city website as "a large-scale water and wastewater project."
The federal government contributed $15.8 million, the province chipped in with $7.9 million, while the City added $7.9 million plus another $11.7 million to the project that is worth $31.6 million. Munro said, "we are getting 3 for 1 "because the roads and sidewalks will be redone at the same time.
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