Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on February 7, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Monday, February 7, 2011
Cause of break still unclear but residents won’t likely have to pay
The day after a water main break sent water flooding into the streets and homes of a central Edmonton neighbourhood, little is known about what is responsible and who will pay for the damage.
The line that broke was a major transmission line that carries water from Epcor water treatment plants to resevoirs around the city before that water is then distributed on smaller lines to customers.
The break happened at around 5:30 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of 109 Avenue and 108 Steet. Within a few hours it had spread over a five block radius. In some places, the water was hip-deep.
Work on fixing the break began on Monday but Epcor officials say questions surrounding what caused the break and who will be reponsible for paying for damages, is still unknown.
“We don’t know and we won’t know until we get down there and have a look at what happened,” said Tim le Riche with Epcor.
“Until we get down there and have a look, we just don’t know.”
The break caused damage to a number of homes with water rushing into basements and vents.
However as long as residents have an insurance policy in place, the question of who will ultimately pay for damages shouldn’t be a concern.
“They shouldn’t be too worried,” said Troy Bourassa with AMA Insurance. “The typical policy is going to provide coverage.”
Bourassa said most policies cover damages “when the loss is caused by the breakage of a public water main.”
Damage from flooding as a result of that kind of breakage is covered differently than damages caused by “natural” flooding.
“From the perspective of the individual wondering what’s going to happen right now, their insurance company will take care of it,” Bourassa said. “What happens to the losses after that, the insurance companies will deal with that.”
But Bourassa said residents should call their insurance companies as soon as possible.
There is currently no timeline on when repairs will be completed as Epcor still needs to dig down to the break, fix it, re-fill the hole, and then it’s up to the city to re-pave the street.
This isn’t the first water main break to wreak havoc in recent months.
On Dec. 30, water flooded the underpass at 129 Avenue and 97 Street.
Le Riche said Epcor deals with about 350 breaks each year, which is down considerably from the number dealt with back in the 1980s, which had been about 1,600 a year.
The decrease in breaks is a result of the company spending between $10-$20 million a year upgrading lines around the city with more durable pipes.