Atikokan frozen water pipe problems trouble homeowners

Frozen water pipes have plagued many homeowners in Thunder Bay this winter — but in Atikokan, the problem has residents bursting with frustration.

In some cases, pipes will not be thawed until spring, Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown says

Lorene Legaree's grandson, Lincoln Gascoigne, plays near the portable water tank provided by the town. (Supplied)

Frozen water pipes have plagued many homeowners in Thunder Bay this winter — but in Atikokan, the problem has residents bursting with frustration.

"I got up in the night, and went to wash my hands, and it was frozen - there was no water,” said Lorene Legaree, who discovered the pipe to her house was solid ice about three weeks ago.

Legaree's been showering at work ever since.

The town of Atikokan provided her with a small water tank for household use, and bottled water for drinking.

"It's inconvenient,” she said. “But they've done everything they can to make it doable."

Legaree isn't the only homeowner in Atikokan with frozen pipes.

Mayor Dennis Brown said about 40 homes currently have no running water, and the town has given out all its portable tanks. Now it's handing out hoses to connect people to their neighbours' water taps.

Waiting for spring

Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown says about 40 homes currently have no running water. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

In 17 years in the job, Brown said, he's never dealt with a crisis like this.

"Not this much. Not this many frozen water lines, not this amount of snow, and not this amount of cold weather,” he said. “We had periods of it but, as far as I know, this is probably the worst that Atikokan has ever experienced, as far as frozen water lines."

The stop-gap measures are “working out to a certain extent, ... but there's also probably going to be some cases where the water lines aren't going to be thawed until spring,” Brown added.

Lorene Legaree and her family are using bottled water to brush their teeth, after their water pipes froze. (Supplied)

In the past, Atikokan has borrowed a thawing machine from Fort Frances, but this year that town needs it to fix its own frozen pipes.

In Thunder Bay, some residents have gone without running water for days, while the city tries to catch up to calls for help. Two crews have been assigned to the task.

Officials with the City of Thunder Bay said they've responded to about 250-300 calls for frozen pipes, and continue to get two to three per day.


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