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City seeks millions in disaster relief for frozen pipes

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City hall hopes to recover about half of the $3.5 million spent dealing with frozen water lines this year.

The city has formally applied to the province for disaster relief financial assistance.

Finance chairman Russ Wyatt said if the funding is approved, the city would recover half the costs from the province.

Wyatt acknowledged there are concerns that the frozen water lines may not meet federal criteria as a disaster, but he added he hoped the issue would be resolved if the provincial government formally recognizes the situation as a disaster.

"I hope the province is supportive," Wyatt said.

If the province covers the disaster relief, it would recover its costs from the federal government.

The $3.5 million does not include the lost revenue to the water and waste utility from the thousands of homes that were instructed to run their water taps this winter as a precautionary move.

The utility has not provided a cost estimate for the extra water usage.

Almost 2,600 properties suffered frozen water lines this winter as a result of unusually cold temperatures.

As of this week, 77 properties still have frozen water lines but 45 of those have been provided temporary water service through a hose connection to a neighbouring property.

City officials said the priority is to thaw the pipes of those 45 properties.

The remaining 32 properties with frozen water lines are mostly vacant buildings, officials said.

Almost 10,000 properties continue to run a cold water tap, as the city believes the risk of freezing is still present.

City officials said the water and waste utility will do a review of the measures put in place and come up with a plan in the event of a recurrence next year.

The city has purchased more thawing equipment, officials said. The city’s preferred option to thaw frozen water lines, the larger and more powerful DBH thawing machines, are no longer in production.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 4:45 PM CDT: Adds more details on thawing equipment.

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