• John Jantak

Multiple pipe connections hamper water leak shut-off effort in St. Lazare


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Water pools on Rue Gosselin from a nearby leaking pipe on October 9. Both Mayor Robert Grimaudo and Ghislain Castonguay, project manager for the city’s infrastructure division, said the nothing can be done to stop the leak because the pipe is on private property.

A broken water pipe from a property on Rue Gosselin that has been spewing water onto the side of the street for several weeks still is not repaired because phone calls informing the owner of the situation have apparently been ignored, according to St. Lazare municipal officials.

“The town can’t stop the leak because it’s on private property,” said Mayor Robert Grimaudo during a telephone interview October 10. “The guy is not talking to us. He’s not answering our calls and for some reason he’s ignoring the whole situation,” he said.

Nearby resident Susan Clarke advised Your Local Journal about the problem last week. Clarke who lives across the street said she repeatedly called the town to advise them about the leak but said the town still hasn’t done anything to stop it.

Multiple connections

The problem is apparently because the pipe that is leaking is also connected to some adjacent houses. If the town cut off the water to the affected property, the neighbouring properties would have no water also because there are no individual shut-off valves, said Clarke.

The leaking water has been pooling at the entrance to some driveways ever since the water pipe broke, Clarke said. The ground has become so saturated that the first 10 feet of a cedar hedge on the property next to the leak has died. She’s also upset about the amount of water that has been wasted.

“It’s spilling thousands of gallons of water a day,” said Clarke. “If I put my sprinkler out on a non-assigned day, public security would be here in a flash to fine us for wasting water. Why is the town allowing this to happen? This is not a good thing.”

Homeowner permission needed

“The problem is we can’t do anything until we get permission to go onto his property to fix the leak. He hasn’t given us permission yet, but at some point we’re going to have to deal with it. Water is being wasted and that’s a really terrible thing. Our infrastructure department is really on this and they’re dealing with it,” said Grimaudo.

“These are private pipes that cross property lines to connect to the main pipe at one homeowner’s residence,” said Ghislain Castonguay, project manager for the town’s infrastructure division. “We’re usually not aware of these connections. We don’t know where they go or how they were made. Now that the pipes are 40 years old, they’re starting to break.”

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Susan Clarke and Ben Pawnall stand next to water pipe shut off valve that was recently installed by municipal employees in St. Lazare. The couple recently learned the city refused to reimburse them for the $2,000 they spent to have their shut-off valve and water pipe connected to the main water line because their request wasn’t submitted within the 15 day deadline after the connection was completed in early September even though the work was done on city property.

Didn’t know about connections

A major leak also occurred in late July at Clarke’s house when a pipe broke and flooded her backyard and seeped into her neighbours’ yards. When she called the town to report the leak, Clarke was surprised to learn they couldn’t stop the water because the neighbouring three houses were connected to her water line.

“If the town shut down our water, the three other houses would also have had no water. We were told that everyone should have their own shut off valve. If they did, the town could turn off the leak,” said Clarke.

The owners of all the affected houses had their houses connected to the town’s main water line and shut-off valves installed. Clarke said she didn’t know about the connections when she bought the house last year and the previous owner never mentioned it. “Everyone thought they had their own water line,” she said.

Reimbursement rejected

Clarke also recently learned the town refused to reimburse them for the $2,000 they spent to have their shut-off valve and water pipe connected to the main water line because their request wasn’t submitted within the 15 day deadline after the connection was completed in early September, even though the valve is on town property.

Clarke’s husband Ben Pawnall said the town should be more understanding. “The town is responsible for their property, which is the first 10 feet. With the millions of dollars they spent on the town hall and with the money they spend on Festival au Galop every year, the town should at least repair their portion of the pipes,” said Pawnall.

Castonguay said the town is doing what it can to let residents know about the situation. “It’s sad they didn’t know and the previous owner didn’t tell her about it. We don’t have all the information from the time the houses were built to provide to the citizens,” he said. Castonguay added other residents in the area are also probably connected to someone else’s water pipe.

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