Breaks and Leaks in the Water System
Every municipality that provides water services must deal with issues of breaks and leaks in their system.
Water system breaks can be a common occurrence where extreme changes in the weather result in freeze and thaw cycles that cause the earth to expand and contract. In addition, natural ground settling occurs in the Town of Regina Beach geological location and the community experiences additional movement as the Town is mostly built on hillsides on a glacial valley.
Breaks are a catastrophic failure of a water line and result in significant or extreme flow.
Water mains are the large diameter water lines that provide water service throughout the community. Service lines are the smaller diameter water lines that connect from the main water line to a property.
Breaks in the system take priority over a leak. Breaks are an urgent situation that needs to be immediately addressed. Since they can happen at any hour of the day or night, the Town strives to have the repair of a break completed in the shortest timeline possible in all of the circumstances.
Wherever possible, a leak will be a planned repair that takes place during regular operating hours with advance notice to those affected.
Steps to Address Breaks or Leaks
When the Town becomes aware of a break or leak, time is of the essence.
The Public Works & Utility Department (PWUD) will immediately:
1. Investigate and narrow down the search to pinpoint the location of the break/leak, and determine the severity of:
a. water flow; and
b. damage to private property or improvements.
2. determine whether the issue is a break or a leak.
a. if it is a leak and not causing imminent damage to private property or improvements, PWUD management will arrange a repair within 24-48 hours and proceed with standard notification of impacted resident(s)
b. if it is a beak, proceed to Step 3.
3. if the issue is a break:
a. that is on private property and can be isolated at the curb stop, no other properties will lose water service, the water will no longer be an immediate threat, and a repair can be planned within 24-48 hours, and the property owner will be made aware of the estimated timeline of repair and that potable water will be available from the tap at the Water Treatment plant
b. but the problem with the line cannot be resolved by turning off the curb stop, or the location of the issue is obviously on the municipal side, a larger area will have to be isolated and if the leak is not an immediate threat, the curb stop and all other valves will remain operational, PWUD management will arrange a repair within 24-48 hours, and public notice will be issued to the larger area impacted advising the property owners of the estimated timeline of repair and that potable water will be available from the tap at the Water Treatment Plant.
4. if the issue is a leak, PWUD will determine the best way to isolate the leak using the closest two valves operational to impact the fewest number of residents:
a. if the volume of water loss will not negatively impact the water reservoirs AND there is no major immediate threat to private property or improvements, repairs may be planned for regular operating hours.
b. if the volume of water loss is substantial enough to cause concerns of reservoir levels OR impending damage to private property that cannot wait until the next business day to proceed with standard notifications, repairs will proceed in accordance with the Emergency Measures outlined beginning at Step 6.
5. Whenever possible, PWUD will notify the residents in the area that will be impacted by a water valve turn-off by going door to door advising them of the break in person or, if no one is home, by leaving a door hanger with the information regarding the need for water service to be shut down in that area so that resident have a bit of time to fill up jugs/bathtubs for flushing, etc.
In some instances, notice cannot be given, and water must be shut off as soon as possible in order to stop further damage to properties when there is very high treated water level loss, etc. In a case where PWUD determines that it is necessary to immediately implement procedures to protect property and/or water supply:
6. water will be shut off as soon as the valves are located, and notification of the break will occur after the water is controlled; the Town office will issue updates on repairs as available and residents will be encouraged to follow the Town of Regina Beach official Face Book Page, or to bookmark the Town of Regina Beach’s website to see the updates.
7. PWUD staff will advise Management and the Town’s EPO at Water Security Agency (WSA) when a break has been found and whenever any portion of the Town’s water system has been depressurized. WSA will inform of the next steps to be taken in accordance with the Town’s Permit to Operate and legislation, and may issue the Town a Precautionary Drinking Water Advisory (PDWA) for the area that experiences the depressurization. The Town does NOT have authority to issue this on its own. If a PDWA is issued, it must be delivered to the impacted properties within 3 hours of the Town receiving it.
8. PWUD staff will contact a contractor to set up repair of the infrastructure as soon as possible for occurrences of multiple properties out of water. The Town will strive to ensure that repairs are scheduled ASAP wherever possible, including weekends and holidays however as the Town relies on contractors the Town must work with their availability.
9. PWUD staff will call Sask1st to get all important services marked so as to not hit any utility lines when the dig begins, use of the Emergency locate line will be used for any unplanned shut-off.
In the event of a major catastrophe in which PWUD cannot isolate a break before the water tower is drained for the entire community, creating a fire risk, the water distribution system would be turned off and the process of re-engaging sections to trouble shoot would be implemented. This would allow the main water tower to recharge for safety however it would likely result in the whole community being put under a Precautionary Drinking Water Advisory per Water Security Agency’s directions at the time.
The Town of Regina Beach and the Government of Canada encourage everyone to maintain a 72 hour emergency preparedness kit. Emergencies can happen at any time and without warning. Be ready. All property owners and residents are encouraged to visit www.getprepared.gc.ca for standard preparedness guide.
Notification & Communication:
The Communications Department of the Town Office will notify the public once information is received. Postings will be made using the following communications tools:
- www.reginabeach.ca – on the home page under the ‘News & Notices’ blog
- Social Media (Town of Regina Beach Facebook)
- Electronic sign at the Town Office
Postings will be updated as information becomes available. Owners/residents of the properties immediately impacted will have information posted directly to their door.
Water Supply Tap
During water disruptions, potable water is made available for affected property owners/residents ONLY for the duration of the water disruption. An external self-shutting tap has been installed at the Town of Regina Beach Water Treatment Plant on the east wall. To operate, one need only pull on the handle and the water will flow from the tap. Once the handle is released, the tap will automatically close.
Precautionary Drinking Water Advisories
Precautionary Drinking Water Advisories are issued by the Water Security Agency if there is concern of any contaminants in the water. Although it does not mean that there are any immediate known threats to health, the PDWA warnings are to keep people healthy in case contaminants within dirt and debris from the area surrounding the broken pipe enter the water. The Town follows legislated procedures to disinfect the lines before recharging them, however two water samples from the affected area that come back negative of any contaminates at 24 hours apart are required before the Water Security Agency will remove the PDWA.
If a PDWA is issued, bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute prior to use for drinking, brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables, food or drink that will not be subsequently heated, and washing dishes. Otherwise, the water is safe for showering, cleaning and doing laundry – as long as it’s not ingested.
Precautionary Drinking Water Advisories and notification of the rescinding (removal) of the advisories will be hand-delivered to all affected properties.
When the Break or Main is Repaired
Owners/residents should flush their water pipes once the issue has been repaired by opening a large tap (a bathtub is ideal for this task). Avoid running hot water to do this to minimize filling the hot water tank with potentially turbid water. Open the cold-water valve and listen for hissing and spitting, a sign that air remains in the line. Run the water until it is clear and no additional air bubbles are released.
Discolouration is not an indication of contamination; cloudy or yellow water is possible as air or iron from the system are stirred up when where are changes in water pressure within the pipes. These properties affect the aesthetics of the water. Run the cold water tap for a few minutes allows it to pass. Owners/residents who have consistent aesthetic water quality issues should contact the Town office during regular hours or submit an e-mail.
Owners/residents should Inspect their property for any damage caused by a water main break or leak, including the basement and perimeter of the property home.
Owners/residents who have experienced property damage must contact their insurance provider to begin a claim. Keep track of all receipts and photos. The insurance company will issue a letter to the Town of Regina Beach and the Town’s insurance provider will deal with the matter. Town employees cannot discuss or deal with matters of property claims. Owners/residents who require special consideration must submit a written letter to Council for a decision on the request.