What are watermain breaks?
Watermain breaks happen when a pipe has a leak or breaks, affecting the water service to our homes and businesses. They may affect water pressure, or cause pooling of water in our streets and neighbourhoods. They are caused by various factors, including natural causes such as the age of pipes, temperatures, and materials.
Reporting Watermain Breaks:
Our residents are our eyes and ears in the community. If you see water pooling on the streets or have a loss of water pressure in your home, please call our 24 hour Trouble Line at 311.
On average, the City of Lethbridge repairs between 50 and 100 watermain breaks each year. Each break offers unique challenges, so we follow the process below so there is minimal disruption to residents and businesses while ensuring access to safe, clean drinking water.
What happens when there is a watermain break?
- City crews are dispatched to determine the exact location of the leak.
- Upon location of the leak, crews determine what road closures are necessary so that repair work can begin.
- A call will be placed to Alberta One Call to request that underground utilities locations be marked. ATCO, TELUS and electric companies will mark the ground with paint and/or flags.
- Once the underground utilities locations are marked, roads in the area may be closed, which could result in detours and loss of parking.
- The section of broken watermain will be isolated in order begin repair efforts.
Turning off your water
- In order to make the repair, we will have to turn off the water supply, which usually means the whole block will be out of water (otherwise it's like trying to put a sprinkler on the end of a hose while it is running!).
- City crews will do their best to notify residents in the area of an interruption in water supply service.
This is usually done in person by going door-to-door in the affected area.
If residents are not home a notification tag is left on the door.
3. In the case of most watermain breaks, the City will deliver a temporary supply of water from a water tank. The trailer will be parked in the neighbourhood where the break is located.
4. To obtain water from the tank, you will have to walk down your street with a clean bucket and fill it with water so you can have water in your home.
Talk to your neighbours and check on them. They may need help carrying water to their homes.
If you have mobility issues and cannot carry water to your home, please call 311 to see if one of our crews can help you.
5. Neighbour water sharing is also sometimes an option. Our crews will set this up if it's an option.
6. Think about where you could go to shower in case your water is off for more than a day. Local pools and fitness centres may be options for those that do not have friends or family nearby.
What our crews are doing
- The area of the leak is excavated.
- Crews formulate a repair plan based on what is found.
How long does it take to fix a watermain?
The repair time depends on the time of year, location and severity of the break. Simple repairs may take only a day or two while more severe breaks may take weeks to fix.
- They fix the break.
- Crews sample the water to ensure water quality.
- Once everything is in working order, the water can
be turned back on for regular use.
- The road surface will then be repaired and the road will be reopened. The time frame varies based on season and availability of materials.
There's an open excavation in front of my house and no one working – why?
There are a couple of reasons:
- The work might not be in front of your house, but you could be affected because of where the valves are located.
- At any time there can be a number of underground utility emergencies throughout Lethbridge. Repair work must be prioritized based on factors such as the risk of property damage, impact to critical facilities (like schools and the hospital) and if there are any businesses or homes without water or sewer service. Sometimes we will leave an open excavation for a couple of days to attend to more urgent priorities.
We understand that open excavations in your street are a significant inconvenience and we always do our best to close up excavations as soon as possible.
More about our watermain system
Our mission every day is to provide a clean, safe and reliable supply of drinking water to the community.
Our water distribution system consists of:
- 630 kilometers of watermains
- 8,547 valves
- 2,911 hydrants
- 30,700 metered service connections
For more information
Submit a service request
Phone: 311 or 403-320-3111 (if outside of Lethbridge)
Address: City Hall, 910 4 Avenue South, Lethbridge, Alberta, T1J 0P6