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Water Today Title November 25, 2017

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Bwa of the day - Winnipeg, MB - 24 watermain breaks and no BWA - WHY? - 9/17/12



by Tim Shanks - Field Service Operations Engineer
Water Services Division, City of Winnipeg


The soil in Winnipeg has a very high clay content, and when there is a prolonged period of dry weather such as this summer, the clay will dry out and shrink, which shifts the soil and places stress on our water main pipes. This summer has been very dry and we are now seeing a large increase in water main breaks. For example, over this past weekend we had 24 breaks. Leaks and breaks create sudden changes in flow direction that can disturb sediment that naturally builds up in the pipe, and this sediment can cause temporary discoloration in the water at the customer's tap.

We are required by our provincial license to test and report on water quality in our distribution system. We test the water in many locations daily and report all of the data to the province. In addition to the testing, if at any time we have any indication of a water quality concern we are required to report it immediately to the provincial regulator. The provincial government issues a boil water advisory if they feel there is a danger to public health.

When a water main has a leak, the pressure inside the main forces the water to flow out of the pipe, and as long as the main is pressurized there is no groundwater or soil intrusion into the pipe. Some water main repairs can be completed without dewatering (emptying) the pipe, while other repairs require replacement of existing pipe sections with new pipe sections. I can assure you that we have no concerns regarding water quality in our distribution system and that our extensive water quality monitoring program is a continuous process.

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