Major capital projects aim to keep the water flowing in Sudbury

You probably don’t think about the water you use until you get your bill at the end of the month, but in Sudbury a number of major projects are underway to make sure it keeps flowing to your tap for decades to come.

50 capital projects to replace and renew city's water distribution network

The city of Sudbury is hoping to get a few more decades out of its aging water infrastructure, by lining old pipes with a "balloon" in areas prone to water main breaks. (Mike Jensen/Supplied)

You probably don't think about the water you use until you get your bill at the end of the month, but in Sudbury a number of major projects are underway to make sure it keeps flowing to your tap for decades to come.

A portion of every water bill, called the water fixed charge, goes towards maintaining the city's water system.

There are currently 50 major capital projects for replacement and renewal of Sudbury's water distribution network, according to Mike Jensen, the acting director of Water and Wastewater Services.

Jensen says lining pipes is more cost effective and less disruptive to the public than replacing the old infrastructure. (Mike Jensen/Supplied)

"Included with that is some pretty fabulous work that we've been doing with lining," Jensen explained.

"What it involves is basically a large balloon that goes down through the existing pipe network. Typically we're putting in place the lining where there's been a high frequency of water main breaks, typically in the winter time when the frost is quite deep in the ground and it's subject to frost heaves."

Although "old school" replacement is still done, often in tandem with other major road projects, Jensen said lining is more cost effective and less disruptive to the public, with the potential to extend the life of a pipe for an estimated 50 years.

Closing the leak gap

Lining can also help combat problems with leaks.

More than 20 million cubic meters of water flows through the city's distribution network each year, but Jensen said the billing cycle only accounts for 12 to 14 million cubic meters.

He said the city is looking at a program called "district metering" to help close the gap.

"If we know how much water is going into a given part of the community, and we know how much each resident and industrial client is using, we can do a water balance," he said. "Once we have that data, we can prioritize our leak detection efforts."

Mike Jensen is the acting director of Water and Wastewater Services for the City of Greater Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC)

Plenty of water in supply

Jensen said the city is also exploring "automated meter infrastructure," to replace the aging meters on homes and buildings and provide more accurate real-time monitoring of water consumption.

As for the state of the city's water supply, Jensen said efforts to conserve water over the summer have paid off, with little need to enforce the odd-even outdoor watering by-law.

'I'm very proud to say with the responsible use that our citizens have done so far, our water supply is not in jeopardy at all," he said. "Matter of fact, in some areas we're at the high end of normal."

With files from Jan Lakes.