This particular piece of pipe from the break on 106th was installed in 1940.

This particular piece of pipe from the break on 106th was installed in 1940.

Water main breaks considered ‘act of God’

Aging infrastructure can lead to pipes breaking; are you insured if your home is damaged?

There has been much talk about infrastructure renewal lately, and it is no secret that Kimberley’s in-ground infrastructure is aging. Water loss through breaks in the lines is a problem. City CAO Scott Sommerville says that the Operations Department keeps a log of all water main breaks, and prioritizes line replacement based on break frequency, age of materials, and type of materials.

Given the massive cost of replacement — the Water Loss Management written by Kerr Wood Leida estimates it will cost about $500,000 per year for 15 years to replace all the aging pipes — it will be a slow process.

So watermain breaks are going to occur and they are more likely to happen during extreme temperature changes, Sommerville says.

A case in point is  a break that occurred a couple of weeks ago in Chapman Camp.

“The City’s Flowworks software showed that the break happened at 12:20 pm, a resident called at 12:30, and crews were on site at 12:35,” said Sommerville.

“The City crew had the leak under control within 40 minutes, and cleared catchbasins to remove as much water as possible.

“Crews worked until almost midnight in -20C weather to repair the break and restore water to the neighbourhood.”

In that case, the break to the watermain on 106th was likely due to a large rock under the bell of the main line, he said. This 8-inch cast iron pipe was installed around 1940.

But as a homeowner, what is your responsibility if a watermain breaks in your neighbourhood?

It would be best to check with your insurance provider to see if you are covered for watermain breaks, Sommerville says.

“The City does not cover damage to home or property caused by water main breaks, and refers affected residents to their insurance companies.

“Water main breaks happen all the time in all City’s across the country. When a water main breaks it is considered an ”act of God”, this is because no one knows when a water main will break. The City of Kimberley does keep a record of all breaks and locations. If a water main breaks several times in one location it moves up on the City’s priority list. Everyone has heard about aging infrastructure and Kimberley is in the same situation as most communities. We have all lot of old infrastructure and are struggling to keep up with replacements.

“The City responds as quick as possible to water main breaks and tries to mitigate any damage to residents and other infrastructure.  If there is any damage to a residents home or property the City recommend them to contact their insurance company.”