Due to record low temperatures over the month of February, the City of London has seen close to 300 waterlines freeze. This raises huge concern, because in some cases residents are without water for days.
“If the moisture in the ground that reaches 5 feet deep starts to freeze and create frost, that frost will freeze the waterlines.” said Dan Huggins, Water Quality Manager for the City of London.
There are a couple different things city crews can do to help.
“What we can do immediately, in most cases if their neighbors are willing, is we can connect them to the house next door through an outside tap. We will thaw the two outside hose taps and run a waterline between them. Then the house that’s receiving water through that hose, we ask to keep a tap running, so water is constantly running through that hose because the hose is outdoors and would freeze up if its not running. Lastly, we adjust people’s bills so they don’t have to pay for the extra water.” says Huggins.
The other way city crews can help is by injecting a fresh waterline into the frozen one through the ground outside or through the basement in the house. That waterline will pump in hot water, eventually thawing the frozen sections of the piping.
But freezing isn’t the only issue seen with waterlines. Other problems may arise- like discoloration.
“When we have unusual flow conditions, such as fire hydrant use, or we’ve got a broken water main which can create rushes of water, iron inside the pipes can become loose and get mixed into the water. This would cause people to notice an orange water colour coming from their taps.” added Huggins.
Small amounts of iron mixed into the water supply isn’t a health concern, as iron is a natural element to our diet. But Huggins was quick to add that it could cause damage when used in laundry cycles.
Residents facing frozen water supplies or discolorations are asked to contact the city.