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Moncton's aging pipes led to water main break

Moncton officials say the city's underground maze of aging water pipes were a factor in this week's water main break that forced a boil order on roughly 30,000 residents.

Moncton officials say the city's underground maze of aging water pipes were a factor in this week's water main break that forced a boil order on roughly 30,000 residents.

Crews have fixed a major water main break in an old pipe that gave out earlier this week that caused 5,000 gallons of water a minute to flow out of the pipe.

The pipe that caused the water main break in Moncton was installed about 60 or 70 years ago.

There are estimated to be hundreds of kilometres of pipes throughout the city and many of them are of the same vintage of the one that burst. However, there is only a limited amount of money to spend on upgrading the infrastructure.

Jack MacDonald, the general manager of engineering for the city, said the pipe showed signs of fatigue and corrosion.

"We have pipes that were put in the 1800s, the latter part of the 1800s right up to last year … We have 100-year-old pipes and up," he said.

MacDonald said like many communities in Canada, Moncton's infrastructure is aging.

The city has 400 kilometres of water pipes underground.

He said there's only about $3 million set aside annually to replace old pipes.

"I guess you can do the simple math, we've got $42 million of backlog and we're doing about $3 million a year," MacDonald said.

"That will give you an indication of how many years it's going to take us to finally clean everything up."

MacDonald said the city prioritizes the work by the age and the frequency of breaks in the pipe.