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Brandon 'very busy' with water problems

BRANDON -- Winnipeg isn't the only Manitoba city dealing with frozen water pipes this winter.

Brandon has a higher number of frozen-pipe issues as well due to the exceptionally cold winter.

With five water-main breaks and 20 frozen water pipes, it's been a busy week for Brandon's city crews.

"We're very busy. There's definitely more than usual and more than previous years. Numbers keep increasing over the last few days," said Pam Penner, manager of public works. "The water mains and the water services are all kind of reacting the same way, not faring so well over a cold winter."

Now that warmer temperatures are here, Penner expects a few more problems to come when the ground thaws.

"It's the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, it all hits at once," she said. "I think we're managing. Everyone's definitely working pretty hard to get things caught up here. I think our turnaround has been... within 24 hours."

As of last week, there were 194 taps open at various locations around the city, largely older areas of Brandon with shallow water-service mains to the homes. Those residents have been asked to run a small stream of water to keep their water pipes from freezing.

"We go to those locations and just ask them to keep just a slow drip going, not a full open tap by any means," Penner said. "Just enough to keep the water flowing so that it doesn't have a chance to freeze up."

Penner said Brandon doesn't have nearly as many frozen-pipe issues as Winnipeg, and thanks to the smaller size of the city, they are able to identify problem areas early.

"We know where those locations are and we're able to maintain them," she said. "Every fall we know that certain houses need to keep the taps open."

Brandon had a particularly bad year for frozen pipes in 2003, so the following year a program was launched to lower about 30 waterlines deeper into the ground every year.

The program started with approximately 400 properties on the list, and as of 2013, that number was down to about 100.

"The City of Brandon is definitely lowering those water numbers through a lot of preventative maintenance, and we're being proactive," Penner said. "So although it seems like a lot, over the last 10 years we've definitely reduced it."



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