The City of Toronto is continuing to respond to an unprecedented number of “no water” calls due to frozen drinking water pipes as a result of the prolonged, extreme cold weather.
The City is urging residents to help neighbours without water until crews can visit the home to investigate the issue. If, during the visit, the pipes are found to be frozen outside, crews will attempt to establish a temporary water supply to the neighbour, if consent is provided.
“Toronto Water is working as quickly as possible to get to each home,” said Lou Di Gironimo, General Manager, Toronto Water. “We have mobilized all available crews, along with staff from other areas and contractors, to enhance emergency response.”
Since the cold weather first hit on February 14, the City has received more than 2,600 “no water” calls – 10 times the number received in a typical year. This number continues to grow by approximately 110 to 130 new “no water” calls each day.
In the majority of cases, investigation has determined that the pipes are frozen within the home. Residents are encouraged to visit toronto.ca/frozenpipes for tips on how to thaw frozen pipes.
If these steps do not work, residents should call 311 and someone from the City’s no water “SWAT” team will contact them within 24 hours to schedule a site visit. Due to current call volumes, visits are being booked five days from today.
Once crews arrive, if the pipes are frozen outside and they have the neighbour’s consent, they will attempt to establish a temporary water supply connection (called a highline) by attaching a hose between the two homes. Neighbours will not be charged for any additional water use during this period.
If a highline is not possible, either for mechanical reasons or the neighbour would prefer not to install a connection, the property will be put on the list to have the outside water service pipe thawed.
To date, there are 223 homes on highline and another 171 on the list to be thawed. Thawing is an extensive process that involves excavating six feet into frozen ground to expose the pipe and apply heat. This can take anywhere from three to eight hours, as each property is different. As a result, it can take seven to 10 days for crews to visit each home to thaw the pipe.
“We understand this is a difficult time for many. We thank everyone who is making an effort to support their neighbour and for their continued patience as we work to restore water to affected homes in Toronto,” said Di Gironimo.
To learn more about how to prevent and thaw frozen pipes and what the City is doing to address the issue, visit toronto.ca/frozenpipes