Frozen pipes causing major headaches

Dirt flies everywhere as Jeremy Janess, of Badger Daylighting, uses steam to thaw frozen ground so a backhoe can uncover a broken waterman on Russell Street at Wellington last week. Glenn Ogilvie

Journal Staff

Sarnia homeowners and work crews are dealing with the aftermath of an unprecedented number of frozen pipes that burst in attics, basements and roadways during February’s unrelenting blast of Arctic cold.

Plumbers and emergency repair companies report a huge backlog of calls as they contend with ruptured water services in Sarnia-area homes.

It will be some time before the insurance claims are tallied, but damages will be high, officials said.

City hall took the unusual step of asking for public patience and understanding last week as overworked crews dug up busted water mains and thawed out frozen services. A number of homes were without water.

“They’ve been pushed to the limit,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley. “You only have to look at the conditions they’re working in. In sub-zero temperatures they’re out there dealing with water and (frozen) ground.”

Cold is also causing headaches at the Bright’s Grove Sewage lagoons.

The three ponds used to treat human sewage are filling rapidly with wastewater because the microorganisms that normally break down the effluent have gone dormant.

For the first ever the city may have to truck wastewater from the lagoons to a pumping station on London Line.

That could happen as early as next week, said city engineer Andre Morin.

Southern Ontario broke numerous weather records during a month of bitter cold and Arctic wind.

Sarnia, which most winters only rarely sees overnight lows below -20 C, recorded temperatures as low as -28 C in February.

A City of Sarnia public works crew contends with a frozen water main. From left are Will Marut, James Smith and Roger Chedore. In the backhoe is Jeremy Hull. Glenn Ogilvie

A City of Sarnia public works crew contends with a frozen water main. From left are Will Marut, James Smith and Roger Chedore. In the backhoe is Jeremy Hull.
Glenn Ogilvie