A worker observes as equipment digs to access a broken water main on Isabella Street on Tuesday afternoon
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Water main breaks are becoming an almost daily occurrence across Thunder Bay.
Crews with the city’s sewer and water departments have been responding to an average of one to two breaks per day over the past few weeks, with at least two more breaks reported by early Tuesday afternoon.
Gerald Luty, supervisor of sewer and water on the north side of the city, said there has been more activity than usual during the last decade.
“It’s kind of like a typical this year, maybe above average for the last 10 years but it’s getting back to the normal breaks and freezings we experienced 40 years ago,” Luty said.
“We’re running almost 24 hours a day with our crews and we have machines on both sides running constantly,” he said.
The day’s first water main break took place on Memorial Avenue at the Third Avenue intersection and was first reported at 5 a.m.
When crews arrive on scene they use leak detection to find the origins of the problem, as water may appear in a different spot from the break as it will take the path of least resistance to the surface
The crews must also make sure there aren’t any gas or telephone lines where they plan on digging.
Once they find the source of the leak, crews are left with the challenging task of digging through the frozen ground to access the mains and pipes.
Workers at the Memorial Avenue site reported they had progressed through just more than two metres of soil by mid-afternoon.
Traffic lanes were condensed to give the workers room to operate, and southbound traffic was limited to one lane in the normal middle left turn channel.
Three businesses were without water.
The second break occurred on Isabella Street between Grey Street and Ford Street at approximately 10 a.m.
Arriving crews found water beginning to surface and one worker estimated they would be working until around 8 p.m.
That block was without water from the morning through the rest of the day.
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