After a brutally cold winter and more than 50 complaints of frozen water pipes to the town office, the Mayor of Virden is promising to take action.
This winter, frost reached deeper into the ground than in a normal year, affecting dozens of properties. Although it's not as bad as 2014 when over 80 homes and businesses lost water service due to frozen lines, nerves were nevertheless frayed and calls flowed into Town Hall.
Mayor Murray Wright says one of the biggest problems faced by homeowners was confusion over what to do and who to ask for help. One Virden couple with frozen pipes went so far as to request a meeting with council to get answers to their questions.
“They felt stranded,” said Wright. “They felt left out and phoned me to ask who can help us here. They got frustrated because they couldn’t find the numbers to phone.”
Wright says many homeowners aren’t aware of the correct procedure to follow. He says the first step is to call the town, who will take your information for tracking purposes. Then call a plumber. If the plumber can’t get their lines thawed, they should call the Town back.
Wright says, “We’ll send two guys. We’ll hook up a hose to your neighbour’s outside faucet, read both water meters, and get water flowing to you… Both parties are billed an average based on their usual past consumption.
“We will always help people with frozen pipes but we want a longer term solution to it.”
Mayor Wright says he and council are working with staff to come up with a plan so the next frigid winter doesn’t inconvenience so many Virdenites.
Later this spring, the Town will distribute information on frozen pipes in the mail and in the newspaper.
Wright points to water circulation systems like Aqua-Flo as a possible solution for home owners. They keep the water constantly moving in the pipes, preventing it from freezing.
“I’ve talked to some of these affected people and they’re quite excited there’s something they can use to have water all winter and not have to have a hose going to their neighbour’s.”
The Town of Virden’s Water Line Freeze policy on their website states that “since 1990 Aqua-Flo (or equivalent) freeze protection units were offered as a shared costs effort to the owner by the Town of Virden.” But that offer expired in 2015. It’s unclear if the Town is considering reviving it.
Meanwhile, despite warming temperatures, many Virden property owners are still getting their tap water from hoses connected to their neighbours’ faucet. It could take until June for their pipes to thaw out and start delivering water once again.