Small leak grows to massive flood as water main bursts in Colwood

A Colwood man says he’s happy his home was well sealed, after a water main burst Monday night, flooding his property.

Josh Christensen reported a leak near his Lagoon Road house on Sunday, but was told Capital Regional District crews weren’t available to repair it until after the long weekend.

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“On Sunday morning, we looked outside and there was a small leak from the sidewalk, where the water main runs under our driveway,” Christensen said.

“We called the CRD to see if they could take a look. They sent a guy out and he put up some pylons.”

By Monday morning, the leak was bigger. When he phoned again, Christensen was asked if there was property damage yet. There wasn’t.

At about 8:30 p.m., Christensen heard a knock at his door. Water was pouring out of the sidewalk and a man walking past wanted to alert him.

“We saw this flood of water coming toward our house. We were able to get some things out of our driveway, luckily, before they got too far submerged — things like my motorcycle,” he said.

CRD emergency repair crews arrived quickly and worked until 3 a.m. to seal the leak and clean up the area.

“Today [Tuesday] they came again and were very apologetic. They’ve done a wonderful job of cleaning it up,” he said.

“[But] I wish they had just paid overtime for a guy to come fix it when it was reported.”

Christensen is assessing the damage to his driveway, cedar siding on the house and other areas.

Annette Constable, acting general manager for the CRD’s integrated water services, said the flood was unusual and was caused by a leak in the service line. As the leak grew, it put extra pressure on the water main, which burst.

Much of the CRD’s water infrastructure, including cast-iron components, is expected to last 75 years.

This service pipe was installed in 2011 and the water main in 2001, Constable said, adding service line leaks are relatively common with “probably a few a week.”

When a call comes in after hours or on weekends and holidays, the scene is assessed before a crew is deployed. If the leak isn’t causing damage to infrastructure, private property or traffic, it may be left until the next work day.

“It’s always a decision: Is this an emergency or can it be done during regular operations?” she said.

If a leak like this does occur, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to have property insurance to cover the cost of damage.

“The homeowner did the right thing: Report it, monitor it and if it does get worse, call again,” Constable said.

The CRD spends $2 million annually on pipe repair and replacement in the Juan de Fuca service area alone, which includes Christensen’s neighbourhood. It has spent more than $130 million since 1995 on infrastructure across the region.

“Leak repairs are, unfortunately, part of the nature of our business. We try to prevent them through a maintenance and pipe replacement program,” she said.

In 2014, a 60-year-old water pipe burst, unleashing a river through a Saanich home and damaging several others. The flood was a fluke, the CRD said, caused by a broken cap that should have lasted longer.

Anyone who notices a leak should report it to the CRD at 250-474-9630.

asmart@timescolonist.com

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