So far this year in Deer Lake there have been five water main breaks, which superintendent Dave Thomas said were mainly weather related.
“Frost gets into the ground and it pushes down onto the (infrastructure). Sometimes there could be rocks being pressed into it and they’ll break,” said Thomas. “A lot of that infrastructure is about 40 or 50 years old here.”
Last week, town workers repaired a leak on a residential line on Trailer Court Road. Deer Lake had its last water main break about three weeks ago, Thomas said.
On Tuesday, Corner Brook residents in the Clarence Street area were without water because of a valve leak that needed to be repaired under Second Avenue.
According to the city’s water and sewer superintendent, Keith Costello, Corner Brook has experienced eight water main breaks so far in 2013. That’s down, he said, from the same time period last year.
Costello said most of Corner Brook’s infrastructure was probably installed in the 1950s and ’60s when the subdivisions were being developed. He said it’s a problem if there is cast iron piping under the ground because cast iron cannot withstand any movement.
“We gather our facts from areas we do repair and go from there,” said Costello. “But the weather dictates main line breaks and for service breaks, a lot of that is corrosion.”
He said there can often be well over 100 service breaks, or damage to lines going directly into a home, per year.
The Gros Morne community of Trout River will most likely need some infrastructure repairs this year as well.
So far in 2013, Trout River has only experienced two water main breaks. But the infrastructure installed below the town’s surface in the mid-1970s, according to town clerk Emily Butler, is showing major signs of wear.
“At the time we were told it would last 60 years, but that might not be the case here,” said Butler. “There’s been pressure in the lines, weather-related, and some corrosion and salt water could be causing damage too.”
The town’s problem, she said, is it would have to look for provincial funding. Last fall the town applied for Municipal Works funding for other projects before becoming aware the waterlines might need replacement, and Butler said the town has been told it’s too late to go back and change the funding applications to include the soon-to-be-needed infrastructure repairs.
“We just missed the deadline for that back in the fall,” she said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
She added Trout River has plans to hook up Riverside Drive, where residents are mainly using wells, to the town water supply.
Other communities such as Anchor Point on the Northern Peninsula have been reportedly dealing with similar problems, with old infrastructure beginning to break down across the west coast.