The latest in an ongoing saga frustrating homeowners and stretching city resources is a warning from officials not to hook up hoses from neighbours yourself or you could face health problems and your neighbour may not be eligible for compensation.
More than 900 households are dealing with no water due to frozen pipes, and waits for the city’s pipe-thawing services are now in excess of two weeks.
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So when the Milani family turned on their taps and nothing came out, they called 311 and then swiftly hooked up a garden hose at their neighbour’s house.
“My husband and our very kind neighbour managed to hook up a garden hose from our house to our neighbours,” said Michelle Milani.
In order to keep the hose from freezing, they have to keep a tap running.
City officials had previously said Winnipeggers without water can hook up to their neighbours, who would then be reimbursed for the cost of the extra water up to a certain amount.
But there’s a catch – you can’t just hook it up yourself. Winnipeggers have to wait until a city crew can come out and hook up one of its own hoses.
On Tuesday, after days of using water from her neighbour, she was told the city wouldn’t be reimbursing them for the extra water until crews came to hook up their own hoses. Milani didn't think that was fair.
“We [found] a temporary function so that our house can function with our kids,” said Milani. “But they aren’t willing to take care of our neighbours’ [bill].”
Randy Hull, the city's emergency preparedness coordinator, said the city doesn’t want people doing their own hookups because the hose might affect the safety of the water.
“The major reason would be not because of cost, not because of convenience, it’s because of public health. We don’t want to see people using hoses that aren’t rated potable water,” said Hull.
But the Milani’s are using clean water from jugs for drinking and cooking, and they still want the city to come through with the money for the extra water.
Mayor Sam Katz said that’s a possibility, and the city will look into the details of the case.
“If the city is going to err, we are going to err on the side of our citizens and err on the side of fairness,” he said. “I think fairness would be to treat them like anybody else.”
But city officials cautioned no one should hook up a hose themselves if their pipes are frozen. Instead, contact 311, officials said.