Gander using technology to track leaky pipes

The town of Gander, with its aging infrastructure, is prone to water line breaks. Now it's investing in a computer program to help track and manage them.
Gander isn't alone in dealing with aging infrastructure. It's a problem in many communities. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

The town of Gander is investing in a computer program to help track and manage leaky water lines. 

The chair of the town's public works committee, Coun. Rob Anstey, said homes in the older part of town have seen the most trouble with their pipes.

Over time, they just wear out, and when they wear out — they just break.- Rob Anstey

He said crews digging up people's front lawns to do repairs is normal for a town that's 50 years old.

"Pipes that have been in the ground for 50 years, and over time, they just wear out, and when they wear out — they just break."

Aging problems

Since January, Anstey said there have been 16 water main breaks.

The number is up slightly from 13 this time last year, and the town dealt with about 80 water main breaks in 2015.

"The main lines in the old part of town are made of cast iron. They usually don't break unless its like in the spring or the fall, when the ground moves," Anstey told CBC's Central Morning Show.

"But if the ground moves and they happen to move with it, we could get a break." 

The town of Gander is replacing old iron pipe with new plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

Future planning

He said the investment in a new computer tracking system will not predict breaks but is needed for future planning and problem solving.

Somebody who's working with the town 20 years from now, will have that information at their fingertips.- Rob Anstey

As water lines break, the location and date will be entered into the program, as well as what type of break occurred.

"If you put this information in, somebody who's working with the town 20 years from now, will have that information at their fingertips."

Anstey added that a break in a line that connects a home to the main line is the responsibility of the homeowner, but if a leak is suspected, the town needs to be notified to shut off the water and to determine where a leak is originating.

As breaks occur, he said the town is replacing the old iron pipe with new plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe which will stand the test of time.