Nfld. & Labrador

Fracture in roughly 90-year-old water main makes messy morning in St. John's

A water main break sent water gushing through the Bonaventure Avenue area of St. John's early Wednesday morning, damaging a nearby condo building.

Water flooded area of Bonaventure Avenue, Margaret's Place Wednesday morning

City of St. John's staff work on the broken water main near Bonaventure Avenue and Howley Avenue extension Wednesday afternoon. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

A break along the top of a water main installed in the 1930s sent water gushing through the Bonaventure Avenue are of St. John's Wednesday morning, damaging a nearby condominium building and briefly triggering a retirement home's evacuation plan.

"It seems as though the water main broke right along the top and it was just a split, so like a fracture right along the top of the water main," said Lynnann Winsor, deputy city manager of public works.

City crews found the problem water main, near the Sobeys supermarket and liquor store on Merrymeeting Road, and shut off water for the area.

Deputy City Manager of Public Works Lynnann Winsor says it took crews a little longer than usual to isolate the broken pipe because there are a lot of mains and valves in the area. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

They started repair work late Wednesday morning, with completion expected by 8 p.m.

Winsor said it was a large 40-centimetre transmission line that was damaged.

Water flows through St. John's centre after water main break

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A water main break triggered an evacuation plan at retirement home in St. John's Wednesday morning, with flooding at a nearby condominium complex. 1:29

"That's why there would have been more water than normal this morning," she said.

"To the best of my knowledge, [it] was probably put in place around the 1930s."

Winsor said water main breaks are more prevalent in the fall and spring, when temperatures fluctuate,  and it's difficult to estimate the cost of the break, but crews were already on shift. 

Lynnann Winsor, deputy city manager of public works for St. John's, says crews were dispatched immediately after getting a call of a possible water main break Wednesday morning. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Schools in the area were among the buildings – including Sobeys on Merrymeeting Road – without water Wednesday. 

Students and staff are out for Easter Break and the Newfoundland English School District said there's no damage to the buildings.

'Waterfall coming down'

Early Wednesday morning water was pooling against the front of the Kings Gate Condominiums on Margaret's Place, a cul-de-sac off Newtown Road.

Ray Miller, president of the condominium association, said he was woken up at 5 a.m. after a resident heard a rush of water "and looked outside their unit and saw a waterfall coming down the rock wall between us and Holy Heart."

Miller said water was up "about a foot" against the garage and in the lobby by 8:30 a.m.

"I'm very surprised, being where we're positioned. I never would have thought we would have had a flooding issue since we are up fairly high," he said. 

Water from a nearby pipe break was flowing over a retaining wall and onto the King's Court Condominiums building for several hours Wednesday morning. (Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

He'd never seen flooding of this magnitude. Fortunately, though, none of the condo units were damaged and the garage doors seem to have prevented serious damage to vehicles. 

The condominium board called in Belfor Property Restoration to help mitigate the damage, but Miller said it would take a while to dry out the lobby and replace the drywall and flooring. 

"There's still going to be a substantial effort to get this back to the way it was," he said. 

Water was pouring down the hill alongside Holy Heart of Mary High School, and then onto Margaret's Place, before heading to Bonaventure Avenue.

It was freezing in some spots with the morning's cold temperatures, and crews were heavily salting the area.

With files from Geoff Bartlett and Jennifer Grudic