Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Stephanie Waddell

A SLOW JOB – City crews work on the water main repair job Thursday afternoon near the Farmer Robert’s store. Inset Geoff Quinsey.

Quakes may be factor in water main break

The earthquakes and tremors that rocked the territory last May 1

By Stephanie Waddell on February 16, 2018

The earthquakes and tremors that rocked the territory last May 1 could be one of a number of contributing factors that led to Wednesday’s major water main break at Waterfront Place just off of Quartz Road.

Geoff Quinsey is the city’s manager of water and waste services.

There’s no way of determining exactly how much of a role the shakers may have had, he told the Star this morning.

However, it’s possible they weakened the piece that connects the water main to the fire hydrant.

Many Yukoners awoke last May 1 to shaking in their homes after 6.2 and 6.3 magnitude earthquakes (as well as tremors) occurred in an area south of Haines Junction and west of Skagway.

Along with the possible weakening due to the temblors, Quinsey said Wednesday’s break may have also been impacted by the significant amount of ground water in the area, as a lot of ground water can cause corrosion of the piece.

He also noted frost possibly exerted pressure on the system.

All of those factors could have led to the structural failure that has caused significant damage to the Farmer Robert’s store, which will likely be closed for some time due to water and foundation damage.

The water flowing out emerged at the store where the ground underneath and around the building was already thawed.

“The flange broke right off,” Quinsey said, after noting the repair work to the main is going “much slower than expected.”

As he described it, crews are contending with large amounts of ground water that have to be pumped out of the hydrant area.

After the job began Wednesday and workers had gotten through the layer of frost, the ground water was flowing “like an artesian well,” Quinsey said.

Efforts to continue digging around the hydrant and pump the ground water have since been underway in order to get the broken piece out of the ground.

The city has everything needed to make the repair, which is estimated to cost approximately $15,000.

First, it has to continue the dig and pumping of the ground water, Quinsey said. It’s expected the repair work may be finished by the end of the day on Monday.

The break is considered a “premature failure”, with that connection piece typically having a lifespan of between 50 and 70 years, or somewhat earlier if it’s in an area where there is a lot of ground water.

This piece was new and installed in 2001.

Quinsey also took time to emphasize the importance of residents ensuring any frost protection – be it a bleeder, heat tape or a recirculation pump – is running.

He pointed out issues with frost damage can be fairly common this time of year when frost protection is not turned on inside homes.

Comments (5)

Up 3 Down 1

My Opinion on Feb 17, 2018 at 2:58 pm

So if it is a problem with the Cities infrastructure then they should pay for the damage to the building. No need to talk about Bleeders and the like, it had nothing to do with this.

Up 2 Down 2

Wilf Carter on Feb 17, 2018 at 9:20 am

I write a piece on un-safe transportation system in Whitehorse and on the front page is a picture of an accident on two mile hill.

Up 2 Down 3

I don't believe this at all on Feb 17, 2018 at 9:13 am

The City Mayor, is not putting enough into the budget for proper maintenance for our fundamental systems. Wilf Carter

Up 3 Down 4

Josey Wales on Feb 17, 2018 at 8:24 am

Earthquakes eh?

Well at least the CoW is getting our moneys worth in the dept of spin. Mathematically more probably the stellar ineptness from engineering and the untouchables that we have been conditioned to accept as a everyday standard operating procedure....played a important role.
If I were Robert I would get an outside engineering report, a very good lawyer to recoup all his losses, including potential business lost.
.....an earthquake, man that is rich.
Climate change is why our taxes go up each and every year too I suppose?
Suppose too...that the magnetic poles may be moving quicker than normal, also resulting in our unbalanced civic fiscal stupidity and community composting into rot?

Up 3 Down 4

Calf Wirter on Feb 16, 2018 at 3:57 pm

When I was the business policy senior wonk, we also had a big box of donuts in the morning and talked about whether or not it's good to say off of or just off and I don't remember where we landed when we jumped off of that page. By the way, I live in an area of ground water and I think my life expectancy is more than 70 years.

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