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Frigid temperatures bursting Prairie pipes

An already wicked winter that refuses to let go its frigid grip on much of the Prairies is playing havoc with waterworks in major cities across the region.

In Winnipeg, which is experiencing its second-coldest winter in 75 years, people in more than 500 homes have asked the city to come and thaw out their pipes.

The city has said it will take up to two weeks to deal with all the requests and so has opened shower facilities at indoor pools for the general public.

In Saskatoon, where temperatures dropped to -50 C with the wind chill over the weekend, crews were trying to repair 15 different water main breaks.

The city blames deeper than normal ground frost for putting more pressure on pipes and causing them to snap.

Broken water pipes were also being reported in Calgary, where the temperature was -28 C with the wind chill.

City workers in Winnipeg use specialized electrical thawing equipment, towed from house to house on a trailer, to deal with frozen pipes. But thawing a frozen pipe can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours.

The temperature was -25 C with the wind chill in Winnipeg on Monday.

Officials in Saskatoon warned residents near broken mains to keep extra drinking water on hand — enough for 72 hours. Emergency water supplies were being trucked into affected neighbourhoods by trailer.

Saskatoon was also experiencing temperatures of -25 C with the wind chill Monday.

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