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Georgina grapples with frozen pipe problem
March 19, 2015
By Heidi Riedner

Frozen pipes have affected 251 properties for the past two weeks in Georgina.

To date, the town has spent almost $100,000 to fix water lines that fall under the municipality’s responsibility to 11 homes.

Ailsa Crescent resident Leslie Lenahan, who lives in the subdivision tucked behind Church Street and Woodbine Avenue in Keswick, however, is going on week two without water.

She, like many other residents who have had to hook up to a neighbour’s outside tap, did so Monday.

But the trickling amount of water, that she has to leave running 24 hours a day, is boiling, along with her blood, after being informed by the town last week her home could be without water until the end of April.

“I could not believe my ears when I heard it,” she said, adding waiting for the spring thaw is not an option.

“It is their problem. It is their infrastructure and they need to fix it,” she added.

The town will assist in further investigation and potential remedial actions if it’s determined the problem originates with town water lines and not due to internal plumbing, infrastructure and operations manager Gagan Sandhu told council last week.

Of the 251 affected properties, including those on Ailsa and Lake drives, High and King streets, Verona Crescent and Dalton Road, 80 were reported frozen, Sandhu said.

The balance have some running water or a temporary connection to a neighbour.

In Georgina, frost depth usually does not reach the level of most of the town’s buried water infrastructure, however, some older water service lines are installed at what is considered a shallow depth by today’s standards, Sandhu said, adding extremely cold temperatures or fluctuations can sometimes push frost to a depth that will freeze normally untouched water services.

About 195 properties were asked to run taps as a result of calls and staff knowledge regarding potential service depths, Sandhu added.

Lenahan accused the town of dumping the responsibility and inconvenience of the situation, particularly in terms of temporary hook ups, on homeowners.

But the town’s director of operations and engineering, Dan Pisani, said while the town has no authorization to make this request of neighbours, if those arrangements are made first, the town will assist.

“We can certainly understand that this has been a frustrating situation for those who have been impacted by frozen pipes,” Pisani said. “While the situation is unfortunate, similar to other municipalities, if the frozen water issue is on private property, then the resident is responsible for the cost.”

Fixing the problem at the 11 properties identified as the municipality’s responsibility has cost the town almost $100,000.

“If residents have been instructed by the town to run their water, we are reimbursing those residents with water consumptions out of the norm,” Pisani said. “Based on typical consumptions from last year’s bill, we do a pre and final water meter reading.”

Fair enough, said Lenahan, but what about extra costs incurred to bills such as hydro she added since doing things like laundry and showering takes three times the amount of time with a quarter of normal water pressure.

“I have been totally frustrated with this situation being a single homeowner. It is bad enough and I am by myself,” she said. “This could be very costly for a family.”

A strategy is being developed on how the issue can be permanently addressed if there are future risks to properties that may freeze again.

But that answer doesn’t hold water with Lenahan.

“Well, by then, I guess we’ll be at the end of April, won’t we? There are no guarantees and they can’t promise a thing with the way things are now,” she said.

adding a lack of funding in the budget, which she said she was told, doesn’t cut it as an answer.

She also thinks it is “unacceptable” that some residents may end up going eight weeks without their own water.

“As far as I am concerned, fixing the situation is the cost of doing business for the town,” she said. “You have to take the bad with the good. We don’t get a discount when things are good and there are no problems. If they were a private company, they’d be out of business.”