City staff say the bulk of Hamilton’s water main breaks in 2022 were the result of ground movement accounting for 60 per cent of 277 detected issues.
The annual water main break report revealed the cost to taxpayers for those fixes was just under $2.3 million with about 33 per cent of the breaks attributed to corrosion and about three per cent caused by a contractor.
On average, from 2012 to 2022, the city typically endures about 300 water main breaks per year.
Shayne McCauley, Hamilton’s director of water and wastewater, revealed to councillors on Monday the breaks often involve thaw and frost resulting in the heaving of soil.
“As moisture penetrates, it freezes, which displaces the soil, which can also affect our pipes and put extra pressure on them,” McCauley explained.
He says about two-thirds of all the main breaks last year were generally in the older part of the city, where infrastructure is aging.
“Looking at Ward 1, specifically, the average age of water mains… is 77 years versus the city as a whole, averaging about 41 years,” McCauley said.
Since 2019, public works has had a proactive leak detection program in an effort to mitigate drinking water losses through the system that reached a high in 2018 of about 30 per cent.
McCauley told councillors that of the 277 leaks dealt with about 108 were found by the program with 73 within city infrastructure and 35 on private properties.
The city has a total of 2,133 kilometres of water mains.
Transmission water mains, for large volumes of water flow to fill potable water storage facilities and supply water pumping stations, account for 187 kilometres of pipe.
About 72 per cent of those lines were installed between 1950 and 1980.
The city’s distribution lines, smaller pipes that distribute potable water to properties, represent some 1,946 kilometres with 54 per cent installed after 1981.
Over the last decade, the city has replaced some 65 kilometres of pipe at a cost of around $100 million and rehabilitated 56 kilomteres around the same period.
Last year, the public works replaced less than a kilometre of pipe at a cost of just over $2 million. Close to 6 million was spent to rehabilitate 3 kilometres of line.
Over the next decade, the city plans to spend some $194 million on water main replacement and rehabilitation projects as part of a 10-year water, wastewater and storm rate budget.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.