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Water Transmission Break Update

13-Dec-2016

As a result of the water main break at Champlain Heights, some customers are experiencing low water pressure and/or discoloured water. Both of these are caused as a result of the break. If customers experience discoloured water, they should run the water through their bathtub faucet until the water runs clear. This may take 15 minutes or more. 

Discoloured water is a result of velocity and water pressure changes that result from the break in the watermain. When the pipe break occurs, water velocity increases and stirs up sediment causing discoloured water. 

The Department of Public Health has advised there will not be a large-scale boil water order associated with this break at this time; however, the system is still not returned to normal and there remains the potential of a boil water order. At this time, a small local Boil Water Order has been issued to seven customers in the immediate area of the water transmission main break. These customers are without water and are being hand-delivered boil order notices.

Cause of the Break

The cause of the break has been narrowed down to the contraction and expansion of the aged cast iron pipe, which we estimate to be roughly 150 years old. As the weather gets colder, so too does the lake (source) water. Frigid water moving through the aged pipe, combined with the changes in ground temperature, caused it to contract and break at its weakest point. 

As the pipe broke, a large section of cost iron (approximately seven-feet in length) blew off the top of the pipe, moving it approximately five feet away from the pipe. When it blew off, it resulted in the water self-excavating the pipe, moving soil and rock debris with it. We estimate the seven-foot section to weigh approximately 1,000 pounds. 

Saint John Water