Medicine Hat News
Cold snap hasn’t reached water pipes yet
Frigid weather can often result in frozen water pipes, but during this current cold snap only one situation has required the city to respond.
Brian Graham, manager of field operations at environmental utilities, tells the News there had been just one call, and crews had to use hot water from inside the house to thaw their pipes. It was in an area of the city where the water pipes are shallower than is considered ideal.
“We have two frost monitoring stations established in the city now,” said Graham.
These locations are monitored every day.
“The frost depth is between three and five feet,” Graham says of current conditions. “Service lines are normally between seven and nine feet deep.”
Although Hatters have been experiencing extreme cold weather, with overnight lows surpassing -30 C, it has not been going on long enough for the frost to penetrate deeper into the ground, said Graham.
In 2019 the city dealt with an unprecedented number of frozen water pipes. There had been a relatively mild December and January, followed by stubbornly cold weather in February that stretched into March.
Environment Canada says the average temperature for Medicine Hat in February is about -2 C during the day and -12 C at night. That year Hatters experienced sustained temperatures that averaged -19 C to -29 C.
By early March 108 locations had experienced frozen water pipes, while a typical year would see a little more than 30. By the middle of March, the city declared a ten-fold increase in frozen pipes.
Graham says by the end of it all there had been 450 situations. Costs mounted, with some sites having to be excavated to get to the pipes, not to mention the cost of water main repairs.
The city’s website (see link below) provides tips on how to protect your water pipes. At this stage there is no need to keep a water faucet running. Some precautions include repairing broken windows and insulating water lines in unheated areas.
Alberta Environment’s forecast is calling for slightly warmer temperatures next week and if that continues Graham does not expect any significant issues to develop.
“The weather forecast is going to improve next week so I don’t expect to have very many frozen water services,” said Graham.
After the situation in 2019 staff received additional training and the city purchased additional thawing equipment.
https://www.medicinehat. ca/government/departments/ environmental-utilities/waterutility/prevent-frozen-water-l