WATERED DOWN: 70 km of city piping needs replacement

WATERED DOWN: 70 km of city piping needs replacement

CORNWALL, Ontario – Nearly a third of the water mains in Cornwall – about 70 km – needs to be fixed, or replaced. And the city is only rehabilitating about half of what it should.

John St. Marseille, the city’s infrastructure manager, told city councillors Wednesday night the amount of deficient water mains represents a sizable portion of the 280 km of piping that runs through Cornwall.

“We are seeing a lot of water mains well beyond their service life,” he said. “On top of that…water main breaks have occurred. Those coincide generally in the areas…where there are deficiencies.

“This compromises our water distribution system.”

But the city only replaces about 1.5 km of water mains per year, thanks in large part to the prohibitive costs. It should be closer to three kilometres a year, to keep up with the degradation of the system.

“We’re really only at about half of that,” said St. Marseille. “We’re not meeting that requirement – and that’s assuming we have 100 years of service life on a water main.

“And in a lot of cases we don’t.”

It gets worse, because the city has some $40 million worth of water mains on a backlog that require replacement.

“We certainly have our work cut out for us,” said St. Marseille.

The city is budgeting some $2.5 million in 2016 to address water main rehabilitation work, including a massive project on Fifth Street from Amelia to Marlborough. That work includes a $1-million provincial grant.

“We’re not even really catching up…we’re building a back log,” said Coun. Elaine MacDonald.

St. Marseille told councillors as the water main network ages, more breaks seem to have occurred. This year the city is on pace for about 100 water main breaks, while last year there were just 48.

The city is working on an asset management plan to address the water main issues, but there are concerns about the pain for ratepayers.

“We’re working on this…but you have to understand people out there have to be able to pay for it,” said Coun. Andre Rivette. “As a fixed income in our household, it’s a lot of money. In our house taxes went up $51 a month (last year).”

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