The City of Winnipeg now has more than 600 people on a list to have their pipes thawed by city crews. Meanwhile, a councillor is calling on the city to put more crews and equipment into thawing frozen water pipes.

Coun. Dan Vandal said there are many people in his St. Boniface ward without water.

Vandal said the climate is changing so fast it's challenging the city's capabilities to respond, so the city needs to have extra gear on hand at all times.

"We certainly need more than three machines operating full time and we need to have access to more of those pipe thawing machines into the future — at least double the amount we have now," he said.

Frozen pipes

City crews are working seven days a week to thaw pipes at homes and businesses throughout Winnipeg. (CBC)

City officials said Monday 616 properties were waiting for their pipes to be thawed by city crews.

It's a jump from last week, when more than 300 properties were on the waiting list.

"Clearly we need more equipment in the future and more people who can operate it into the future," said Vandal. 

In a typical year, the peak would be about 100 homes on the waiting list.

Many people have also complained that they have been left in the dark, with no information from the city as to when their pipes may get thawed. Vandal says the city is improving its communication with residents, but says he understands people's frustration.

"We're doing a better job now, but it's already too late. The damage has been done," said Vandal.​

Alan Skrepnek is one of the many Winnipeggers dealing with frozen pipes.

His home has been without water for about a week.

“My daughter has to wash her hair by bending over into a bucket, and she’s been complaining about it every day,” he said.

The family has been relying on plastic forks, knives, paper plates and the kindness of neighbours.

“You want to be in your own comfortable place to sleep and do everything else,” he said, adding he’s trying to remain patient. “Anger doesn’t help at all, just makes your health worse.”

Skrepnek said he still doesn’t have any idea when the water will be back on in his home.

City officials said crews are working seven days a week to thaw pipes at homes and businesses on the waiting list using specialized electrical thawing machines.

The machines are equipped with a computer system to monitor the current. It automatically shuts off if there are dangerous current levels.

Private contractors don't have those types of machines, and the devices are not available for rent, according to the city.

"We can't go through another winter like this one," said Vandal.