City could have 100 water main breaks in 2015: St. Marseille

Cornwall CFO Maureen Adams and Municipal Works General Manager John St. Marseille present the 2016 water and sewer budget to city council Dec. 2, 2015. St. Marseille believes the city will have 100 water main breaks by the end of the year. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The head of the city’s infrastructure believes Cornwall could be on track to have 100 water main breaks by the end of the year.

John St. Marseille made the revelation during a water and sewer budget meeting Wednesday afternoon.

He characterized the issue of water mains as a budgetary “double-whammy” with more breaks coupled with water mains that are coming to the end of their life cycle.

Coun. Andre Rivette questioned whether this was due to added pressure on the system during the summer when the water tower was offline for refurbishing.

St. Marseille said it could be a contributing factor.

“We are currently at 85 and on target for 100 this year, compared to 45 (breaks) last year,” St. Marseille said.

Some alternatives to replacing the pipe are lining the pipe at $1,500 to $5,000 per meter.

St. Marseille said another aggravating factor are pressure demands needed at times when firefighters are battling a blaze, though the situation is closely monitored.

“We are typically replacing 1.5 kilometers of water main per year. The city should be replacing about double that to address the rehabilitation,” the municipal works GM said.

“Is there any attempt in this budget to close that gap?,” Coun. Elaine MacDonald asked.

St. Marseille said there’s a $40 million backlog of water mains that need to be addressed first. “We’re playing catchup,” he said. “We certainly have our work cut out for us.”

Coun. David Murphy was looking for answers on how this backlog was able to turn into $40 million. “This didn’t just creep up on us…this is not a new problem,” Coun. Murphy said.

Water mains typically have a 100 year life cycle.

The proposed water and sewer budget has an increased of 4.97 per cent or an extra $30-40 a year on your bill, depending on your bathrooms, outdoor taps and whether you have a pool.

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