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Charleswood residents struggle through water woes

Laxdal homeowners frustrated with city

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A city crew was busy fixing a water-main break on Laxdal Drive Sunday. The Charleswood street has been plagued with water-main breaks lately.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A city crew was busy fixing a water-main break on Laxdal Drive Sunday. The Charleswood street has been plagued with water-main breaks lately. Photo Store

Residents on Laxdal Road are fed up with no water coming from their taps and too much flooding in the street.

At least 16 homes in the Charleswood neighbourhood were without water on Sunday from about 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. as the city shut it off so repair work on a broken water main could begin.

The homes affected were between Brittany Drive and Ridgewood Avenue and crews were on scene Sunday night working in the dark to continue repairs.

It's the same area that saw many residents without water for eight straight days from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5 after a water-main break that flooded the street, ditches and several driveways.

"I'm just so frustrated. Calling 311, nobody calls you back, we don't know anything," said Harvey Osiowy, who has lived on Laxdal Road for nearly 40 years and said this is the worst it's been for water-main breaks.

In the past three weeks, people have been without running water intermittently as several more breaks have occurred, leaving residents stockpiling drinking water and bathing and showering at the homes of friends, relatives or workplaces as they wondered what was going on.

'Sharon's going through chemo -- we have to have water. It's beyond ridiculous'

The city has provided water trucks but Osiowy said last week he was walking down the street in his pajamas to get water and his driveway is a sheet of ice from the water-main break.

His wife is fighting cancer and needs to be able to wash properly.

"Sharon's going through chemo -- we have to have water. It's beyond ridiculous," he said. "You go to the bathroom, you turn the tap on first (to see if you can flush)."

Linda and Larry Lagace, who live across the street from Osiowy, said Osiowy's side of the street has it worse.

"It's an inconvenience for us but for them, they have a risk of damage to their property as well," Linda said, noting they've lived on Laxdal for 22 years.

She said the big water-main break started on Dec. 29 while they were having a family dinner. They still had no water on New Year's Eve and had to shower at the home of friends with whom they were spending the evening.

"Some people couch-surf, we're shower-surfing," Larry said. "There's only 30 or 40 of us, it shouldn't be a big deal for them to contact us and let us know what is going on. The only letter we've got came in our mailbox saying (water lines replacement are) going to be done in 2014."

In the meantime, water-main breaks keep happening. Osiowy has started a petition seeking information.

"We're like mushrooms. They're keeping us in the dark and feeding us bulls ," he said.

It's been difficult for Steve and Pam Jobes, who have three children between the ages of five and 14 and city crews digging near their front yard.

"We're just all tired of it all," Steve said Sunday, noting his family was also without running water from Dec. 29 until Jan. 5. They've lived on the street for 15 years.

"Last Friday we had a water-main break next door and now this weekend again. The water was actually leaking yesterday, they didn't do anything and then it broke this morning. Next door, they had water running onto their property."

Pam said they've had to take their children to relatives' homes to bathe and shower for school.

"I do want to praise the workers -- we're not mad at the workers. We're really mad at the city for the old infrastructure," she said. "Until this is repaired, I keep bottled water in the house at all times. As soon as we saw the trucks, I had the tub filling this morning. It's become part of the norm. But it sure would be nice to know if there's going to be an end to all breaks."

Larry Legace said the neighbourhood is glad to have all the deep ditches to catch the water from the breaks but he is worried about what's going to happen in the spring.

"The thing I'm trying to get ahold of councillors about now is, once this mess gets cleared up, we're really going to need the ditches dug out," he said. "Right now, they're scraping all the ice into our ditches and come springtime, it's not going to move. There's not going to be anywhere for the water (from the melting snow) to go and it's going to be worse out here for flooding."

City spokeswoman Alissa Clark said earlier this month homeowners can file a claim with the city for damages, but the city is not liable for any damage caused by a water-main break unless it was caused by negligence from city employees.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2014 A3

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