The bill for breaks: How much Greater Vernon spent fixing broken water pipes in 2016 - InfoNews

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The bill for breaks: How much Greater Vernon spent fixing broken water pipes in 2016

FILE PHOTO: City crews work to repair a broken water main.
March 01, 2017 - 1:15 PM

VERNON - A number of water main breaks in Vernon created hassles last year for motorists, residents and maintenance crews, and now we know how much of a drain they were financially.

According to figures released by Greater Vernon Water — which serves Vernon, Coldstream and the surrounding electoral areas — there were 35 breaks in 2016 running up a total repair cost of roughly $380,000.

The breaks include some major incidents. In August, a water main ruptured on 32 Street (Highway 97) causing a sudden flood of water and prompting a partial road closure. In September, another water main broke and led to flooding at Kal Tire Place.

Many breaks also created inconvenience for local residents who had to deal with their water being shut off.

Utility manager Zee Marcolin says Greater Vernon Water doesn’t keep track of costs per break, and repairs can range from $3,000 for small breaks to more than  $50,000 for larger ones.

The numbers work out to just over five breaks per 100 km of pipe, which is pretty average compared to a 2010 survey of 42 other municipalities, Marcolin says.

While it may feel like there were more breaks than usual in 2016, the number is similar to previous years. In 2015, there were 31 water main failures, in 2014 there were 34 and in 2013 there were 35, according to annual reports.

Marcolin has previously said one reason for the breaks is aging infrastructure. Much of Vernon’s water flows through pipes more than 50 years old. The area also has some unique challenges, including the tendency of some of its cast iron pipes to corrode in the clay soils around Vernon, and the hilly terrain creating a significant amount of pressure.

The utility is working on upgrading the pipes as quickly as it can, but, unexpected breaks can, and still do, happen.


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