With temperatures going from mild to extreme cold and back down to mild, it is taking a toll on the city’s underground infrastructure. 

The city has seen seven water main breaks so far for the month of January, which is the highest number seen since January of 2020. 

“That said, these are numbers comparable to our Februarys. Not over the last year. Last year, we only had, I believe, one in February of last year and two in January,” said Staci Dobrescu, the city’s manager of public works and utilities. 

In 2022, the city has four water main breaks in January and nine in February. 

She did contribute the drop in water main breaks in the last few years to capital upgrades that have taken place. 

Dobrescu said the freeze-thaw cycle we have seen is affecting underground waterworks. 

“It affects a little bit more in high traffic areas because it pushes the frost even quicker into the ground, which then underneath the frost you have a lot more movement within the soil,” she said. 

When there is a water main break, city crews will isolate the break by closing valves which can leave residents without water while the break is being repaired. 

Dobrescu said, generally, it doesn’t take long for crews to get the repairs done. 

“Typically, we do have water main breaks fixed within 24 hours but with the cold temperatures we have a lot of pushback and a lot of issues with the frost. So, some of them were edging on close to 48 hours,” she said. 

If the water is going to be shut off for an extended period of time, the city does have one water truck that it can deploy. 

That said, anytime the city shuts off the water and depressurizes the lines, residents will be put under a boil water advisory. 

Usually, the boil water advisories happen on an emergency basis when the water needs to be shut off immediately because running water is causing damage to public or private property or on a non-emergency basis when the city has the ability to give residents notice ahead of time. 

“Ideally, we would love to be able to do that with all residents, but unfortunately water main breaks determine whether or not they have to be shut off immediately or not,” Dobrescu said. 

If you do see running water, you are asked to report it through the City of Moose Jaw’s website or the City of Moose Jaw app. Dobrescu also said do not drive through areas with running water. 

“You don’t know what’s happening underneath the asphalt. There could be a cavity underneath there that’s been created by the water pressure pushing out of the ground. The dirt and the soil move out of the ground and that creates a cavity. We don’t want anybody inflicting damage on their own vehicles,” she said. 

The City of Moose Jaw also posts water advisories, including boil water advisories and a map of water advisories, on the city's website