CUI is committed to improving the reliability and supply of potable water to Chestermere’s customers.
Over the last few years CUI observed that aging copper water service lines are developing leaks, contributing to increased and potentially significant water losses for Chestermere.
Copper water leaks typically start small and grow over time. Leaks can be occurring for years as corrosion develops, resulting in low water pressure, sink holes and potential local contamination of the water distribution system. While there may be exceptions, copper water lines stopped being installed in Chestermere about 20 years ago, in the late 1990s.
In 2017, CUI worked with EPCOR on a leak detection program with a specific focus on copper service connections. The program resulted in the detection of sixteen leaks that were repaired.
In 2018, approximately 200 sacrificial anodes were installed on the public side of individual service connections to help protect the integrity of the remaining copper water service system components. An anode is a piece of metal which is intended to attract corrosion instead of the copper pipe. It is anticipated the anode installations will slow down corrosion on the copper services, extending their useful life and reducing the risk of future leaks. Plans are in place for a continuation of this program in 2019.
Use of a sacrificial anode is only effective if the copper service components have not corroded too much. In some instances, copper water service lines will require repairs or replacement even after the installation of an anode.
If at any time leaks in the water system are detected, the party responsible for completing the repairs pursuant to the City of Chestermere Water Bylaw 025-13 will be identified, and repairs or replacements completed.
PREVENTING LEAKS IN OUR WATER SYSTEM
What is an anode and how does it work?
An anode is a piece of metal which is intended to attract corrosion instead of the copper water service system components. It is anticipated installation of the anode will slow down corrosion of the copper services, extending their useful life and reducing the risk of future leaks.
How long will anodes extend the useful life of the services?
It is anticipated installation of the anodes may extend the useful life of the existing copper service system components by up to 20 years. This is variable though as the effectiveness of the anode is dependent on how much corrosion exists on the copper services prior to installation.
Are customers charged for the installation of an anode?
What can customers expect if they are contacted for an anode installation?
Installation of an anode is not expected to disrupt water service, and in most cases, the installation will be completed in 2 hours.
Access / egress to properties will only be restricted if the curb stop is in the customer’s driveway. In this case, customers will be provided advanced notice and an estimate as to how long the restricted access is anticipated.
When is it necessary to replace a service connection?
If a leak is detected, the service connection will be replaced. CUI’s contractor will hook customers up to a temporary water service while the work is completed. The replacement of a service connection typically takes a day to complete. It can take another 3 weeks after the repair until the surface is reinstated.
LEAK DETECTION AND REPAIR
Why are Chestermere’s copper service lines leaking?
Unfortunately, we have seen a significant increase in failure of copper service pipes in Chestermere over the last few years. In 2017, 16 copper water services were replaced.
Copper service failures are happening in various neighborhoods across our system and are not associated with just one developer or home builder. There are several potential causes of these failures including location and other specific variables such as the chemistry of the soil and/or ground water. The failures may also be an unintended consequence of changing construction practices and technologies over time.
When originally installed, copper piping was expected to last for 50 years or more, and now utilities across North America are seeing these same services reach end of life in as short as 20 years without adequate protection. Experts suggest that in addition to local chemistry variables, the absence of cathodic protection could be contributing to the failure of the copper water services.
What is involved for a water service line repair to be completed?
If at any point a leak is detected in the water system, the party responsible for completing the repairs pursuant to the City of Chestermere Water Bylaw 025-13 will be identified and repairs completed as soon as possible.
CUI is responsible for repairing leaks associated with the water service line that extends from the water main to the service connection point. A local contractor would be hired to excavate the old line and replace it with a new PEX line. Typically, a repair crew of up to 6 people would be on site at any one time to complete the work. A repair usually takes 1 day to complete. It can take another 3 weeks after the repair until the surface is reinstated.
If a leak is detected on the public side of the service connection, CUI will notify the Customer and offer to exchange the entire water line between the watermain and the Customer’s building, sharing construction costs according to the respective portion of the length of the service line. The Customer may decline this option, at which point they are asked to acknowledge that future damage on their part of the property will have to be repaired at their own cost.
Customers are responsible for repairing leaks associated with their private water lines which extends from the service connection point to the property within a Customer’s property. Customers can hire a contractor of their choice to repair the leak. CUI can refer the customers to qualified contractors.
Arrangements will be made for temporary water service until repairs can be completed. The temporary water line is metered for consumption and all normal water and sewer charges will be applied to the account owner’s normal monthly CUI utility bill.
Can copper be recycled?
How much does a repair cost and who pays for it?
There are many factors that influence the total repair cost including the location of the leak, the amount of water line that needs to be excavated and replaced, and other landscaping considerations. For example, it is faster and therefore less expensive to excavate and remediate grass versus construction activities where concrete or asphalt removal and replacement is required. The costs can be significant as repairs can be in the $10K range.
Seasonal conditions should also be considered. If your water service starts to leak in the winter, construction costs can be significantly higher due to frozen ground conditions. Temporary water service hook-ups to supply you with potable water from your neighbour’s house until the work is complete will also be more expensive in the winter due to higher heating costs.
What are the benefits of replacing a private water service line at the same time as a public water service line replacement by CUI?
Replacing your private water service line when CUI replaces the public water lines could save you time and money. You will save time as CUI has already identified and selected a qualified contractor offering a competitive rate. As CUI is already paying for the mobilization and demobilization of the construction crew to the area, you will save construction costs associated with this activity.
What impact do the copper service programs have on my rates?
Implementation of the copper service programs is critical to our ability to protect the integrity of Chestermere’s water system and to conserve our precious water resources. These programs help minimize water losses and reduce the risk of increased rates that would be required to cover the cost of increased water losses (water that Chestermere buys from the City of Calgary but doesn’t get used by Customers and seeps into the ground or storm system).
Please contact us if you have any questions or require additional information.