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Frozen water line issues - March 2019

Frozen pipes – Non-potable water refills available March 18, 2019

As we continue working to restore water service to our customers, we have arranged locations where those impacted by frozen pipes can get non-potable water for use in their homes.

You can now bring containers for refilling to Fire Stations 5 and 10, as well as the recreation facilities listed below. In most cases, City staff are supervising water refills so we appreciate your patience as there may be a short wait for assistance.

View a list of available water re-fill locations and times below. You can also download and print there-fill locations and hours list.

Facility Address Hours Comments Water source
Norma Bush Arena 2424 University Dr NW 6:30 am - 11 pm See staff in main office - site cell listed on door if staff aren't in the office Flood room
Thornhill Aquatic & Recreation Centre 6715 Centre Street NW M-Th 6am-10pm Fri 6am-7:30pm
Sat/Sun 8am-3:30 pm
Please see staff at aquatic front desk for assistance
Janitor Room
Killarney Aquatic & Recreation Centre 1919 - 29 Street SW M-Th 6am-10pm
Fri 6 am - 9 pm
S/Sun 8am-4pm
Signage to direct public to janitor room Janitor Room
Optimist/George Blundun Arenas 5020 - 26 Ave SW 6 am - 11 pm Signage to direct public to meeting room/janitor room Meeting Room Kitchen or Janitor Room
Shouldice Aquatic Centre 5303 Bowness Road NW Mon-Thur 5:30am-9:30pm
Fri 5:30am -8pm
Sat/Sun 7am-3pm
See staff at front desk for assistance Janitor Room
Shouldice Arena 1515 Home Road NW Mon-Fri 6am-10pm
Sat/Sun 6am -6pm
See staff in main office - site cell listed on door if staff are not in the office Janitor Room
Sir Winston Churchill Aquatic and Recreation Centre 1520 Northmount Drive NW M-Th 6am-10pm
Fri 6am-8:30pm
S/Sun 7am-3:30pm
See staff at front desk for assistance Janitor Room
North Mount Pleasant Art Centre 523 - 27 Ave NW M-F 9am-9:30 pm
S/Sun 9am-5pm
See staff in main office - staff will direct public to available water supply Studios and Kitchen
Wildflower Arts Centre 3363 Spruce Drive SW M-F 8:30a -4:30p See main office for staff assistance Custodian Room
Stew Hendry/Henry Viney Arenas 814 - 13 Ave NW 6 am - 12 pm Signage on site will direct to rear of building for access Flood Room
Max Bell Centre 1001 Barlow Trail SE 7 am - 11 pm Signage to direct public to sink located in first aid room First Aid Room
Inglewood Pool 1527 - 17 Ave SE MWF 6am- 8pm
T/TH 8am- 8pm
S/Sun 9am-3pm
Signage to direct public to sink in staff kitchen Janitor Room
Calgary Soccer Centre 7000 - 48 St SE 8 am-11 pm Signage to direct public to janitor room in Annex Janitor Room
Village Square Leisure Centre 2623 - 56 Street NE M-F: 6am-10pm
Sat: 8am-10pm
Sun: 8am-8pm
Public goes to Customer Service desk to contact arena staff
Bob Bahan Aquatic & Fitness Centre 4812 - 14 Ave SE M-Th 6am-9 pm
Fri 6am-8pm
Sa/Su 7am-3pm
Signage to contact pool staff for access Janitor Room
Ernie Starr Arena 4808 - 14 Ave SE 8 am - 11 pm Signage to contact arena staff for access Janitor Room
Southland Leisure Centre 2000 Southland Dr SE 5:30am-9:30pm Staff at front counter will direct public to janitor room Janitor Room
Canyon Meadows Aquatic & Fitness Centre 89 Canova Road SW M-F 530am-10p
Sa/Su 8am-4 pm
Signage to direct public to sink in janitor room; smaller pails can be filled in lobby sink Janitor Room/Lobby Sink
Frank McCool Arena 1900 Lake Bonavista Dr SE 6:30 - 11:30 pm Signage to direct public to janitor room Janitor Room
Glenmore Aquatic Centre 5330 - 19 Street SW 6 am-10 pm Signage to direct public to janitor room Janitor Room
Stu Peppard Arena 5300 - 19 Street SW 6 am-10 pm Signage to direct public to janitor room Janitor Room
Acadia Aquatic & Fitness Centre 9009 Fairmount Dr SE M-Th 5:30am-9:30 pm Fri 5:30am-8pm
S/Sun 7:30 am-3:30pm
Signage to direct public to janitor room Janitor Room
Rose Kohn/Jimmie Condon Arenas 502 Heritage Dr SW 6am-10pm Signage to direct public to janitor room.
Contact staff via cell phone number posted
Janitor Room

Frozen pipe concerns

How do I prevent my pipes from freezing?

If you’ve experienced frozen pipes in the past (you have been on our Frozen Pipe Prevention Program, have experienced a frozen service or have received temporary house-to-house water lines), it is required that you keep a full stream of water running in your household continuously.

Please keep the water running continuously and do so until you receive further instructions from The City. This will prevent freezing or refreezing. Only those instructed by The City to run water, will have their water bill adjusted.

What should I do if I have no water? Are my pipes frozen?

Call 311 to report the issue. The City will call you to set up an appointment to conduct an initial assessment of your water service.

If your water service is frozen The City will contact you to arrange delivery of a customer care package. Customer care packages for homes include drinking quality potable water, non-potable water for flushing toilets and shower passes at Calgary Recreation facilities.

In order to ensure you have water going forward, while we work to restore your water service, we will also work with you to have your home connected to a temporary service line, installed between your home and your neighbour’s. We will be asking you to assist us by speaking with your neighbour once your line has been confirmed as frozen.

Why are so many Calgarians experiencing frozen pipes?

On average Calgary usually experiences a total of 10 frozen service lines over the course of a winter. To date we have experience more than 250 frozen services. With extended extreme winter temperatures, frost levels have moved to unusual depths of 2.5 to 3 metres (8 to 10 feet). Since this is also the depth where water utilities are located, we’re experiencing a significant and unusual number of frozen water services.

Is this situation unique to Calgary?

No. Many prairie communities experience frozen pipes every winter simply because of our climate.

What is The City doing to address this situation?

City crews are working extended hours and Water Services has activated its Emergency Operations Centre to respond to the increased number of service requests and help impacted customers as quickly as possible.

Is The City doing anything to help me while I don’t have water in my home?

The City has made arrangements to ensure you have access to water. For those experiencing frozen water services, we are distributing customer care packages that include potable water for drinking and cooking, non-potable water for flushing toilets, as well as Calgary Recreation facility passes to enable access to shower facilities.

We are also focused on connecting homes with a frozen service to a temporary water line, which provides water via your neighbour’s home. This will ensure you have access to water until your service line is thawed.

Impacted by a water main break? Check the status of water main breaks and outages.

How long will it take to for my water to be restored?

Because of the unusual volume of frozen services and water main breaks, City crews have a backlog of repairs to address. We are addressing all incidents on a priority basis. Our first priority is to connect you to a temporary water line. A temporary line is the quickest way to ensure you have running water until your service line is thawed.

While we will also attempt to thaw your service line, each pipe and situation is unique. Thaw timelines vary with each case, and in some extreme cases thawing will not happen until the spring ground thaw is complete. If we have been unsuccessful in thawing attempts, we will periodically send a crew to monitor your situation and may attempt a thaw again, if we think we will be successful given available techniques, the temperature and current frost depth.

Why does it take so long to repair or thaw pipes?

There are many factors to pipe repair including age, buried depth, type of pipe and soil conditions. Due to the unique nature of each incident, the time it takes to thaw a pipe can range anywhere from two hours to upwards of 12 hours. In some extreme cases thawing will not happen until the spring ground thaw is complete.

What happens if my thaw is unsuccessful?

In some cases, a thaw attempt may be unsuccessful. If this happens, we will assess your case and you will be contacted for next steps. We may need to try a different thawing technique or we may need to wait for the frost to recede on its own. We will continue to monitor your situation and may attempt a thaw again, if we think we will be successful given available techniques, the temperature and current frost depth.

With extended extreme winter temperatures, frost levels have moved to unusual depths. Even with the warmer temperatures that we are experiencing, it is anticipated that it may take longer than usual for the ground to fully thaw. If this occurs a temporary water line will remain in place until your service has been restored.

What do I do, if my water returns without The City’s assistance?

If your water returns on its own, please contact our hotline for frozen water services at 403-200-9749.

You should also consider doing the following:

  • Run your water for a full five minutes to flushing stagnant lines.
  • Turn one tap on and leave it running for 24 hours a day with water flowing at about the width of two pencils.

How can I get an update on the status of my service request?

We are committed to keeping you informed of how work is progressing to resolve your water issue. Once you have been visited to have your line assessed someone from The City will follow up with you.

What do I do with the jugs now that my water is back on?

You can keep them for your use or recycle them.

Temporary water service concerns:

I have a temporary line but do not have hot water and/or have an issue with my water pressure. What can I do?

Neither amount of hot water or pressure will be the same when you are on a temporary line. The following will help.

  • Check your water heater, it may be on vacation mode.
  • Give your water tank extra time to refill and heat between different activities such as showering washing dishes or laundry. It will take longer than usual for your hot water tank to replenish your hot water supply.
  • If showers are an issue, consider showering in the basement as the hot water will have less pipe to travel through.

I’m on a temporary line with my neighbor but I’m leaving on vacation and I don’t know what to do about running my water – what do I do?

Whenever you shut the water off, there is a risk of water lines freezing.

You have two options: One is to keep the water running as instructed and have someone check on your home. It’s important that you check in with your insurance company to see what their requirements are while you’re away.

Your other option is to have your neighbor turn off the water to their outside tap, disconnect your house and drain the line, leaving it disconnected while you are away. When you are back, flush the line by running water through it before reconnecting. The City is unable to assist you in disconnecting and reconnecting the temporary hose.

I have temporary water service connected to my house but now I don’t have enough water pressure to run a shower. Can I turn down the stream of my constant run?

You can turn it down temporarily, but you should turn it back up immediately after your shower to prevent the line from freezing. If you have a shower in the basement you might have more water pressure there.

I’m leaving on vacation and I don’t know what to do about running my water – what do I do?

Whenever we shut the water off, there is a risk of water lines re-freezing. Check in with your insurance to see what the requirements are while you’re away.

If you decide to shut off your water, please understand we cannot guarantee that your line will not freeze while you are away.

My house is vacant, is it safe to run my water?

We do recommend you continue running water to prevent the service from freezing. You’ll want to have someone check on your home at the frequency required by your insurance company.

My temporary service froze. What now?

If you do not run a faucet continually you do run the risk of your temporary line thawing, especially overnight. If this happens, please give the line a few of hours as outside temperatures warm in the morning to thaw on its own. If the line does not thaw please call us at 403-808-3092.

Water utility bill concerns

I have concerns with my water utility bill for the time my water service was frozen, or I participated in a temporary line. What should I do?

For any concerns regarding your water utility bill please contact ENMAX, The City of Calgary’s contracted billing, customer care and meter reading provider, at 310-2010. Due to our billing cycles, you may receive an initial water bill with higher than normal water usage charges. Your bill will be adjusted to ensure it reflects the time you have to run water. It may take one or two bills before you see an adjustment.

What frozen lines is The City responsible for investigating? What is the homeowner, business, or condo board responsible for?

The City of Calgary builds, maintains and operates an extensive underground pipe infrastructure that moves water throughout the City, connecting to homes and businesses through service lines. The part of the pipe that extends from water main to property line is maintained by The City of Calgary. The part of the pipe that extends from property line to house/business is maintained by homeowner/landowner.

City of Calgary

When a home or business is directly connected to a public main, and the service line from main to property line is suspected to be frozen, the City will work to resolve the service disruption using various techniques. Typically, if pursuing a thaw technique, the City will thaw from the inside portion (from residence to main), which results in the entire service being thawed.

The City is not responsible for facilitating thaws or repairs on private lines (water line from service valve to home/business and/or line that do not directly connect to public infrastructure). Private-side pipe infrastructure is the responsible of the homeowners, condo (board/condo management), and/or business. Typically, a multi-family residence or condo might see units closest to the City public main tied directly to the main, with the remaining units tied to a private line extending behind the property line. The homeowner/condo management company is responsible for investigating suspected frozen mains behind the property line.