A burst water main created a giant sink hole in the intersection of Wilkinson Road and Burnside Road West in Saanich on Saturday

Burst water main at Burnside West repaired but homes damaged

A burst pipe created a gaping sink hole and flooded homes in the neighbourhood of Burnside Road West and Wilkinson Road

The cause of a massive water main break that spewed nine million litres of water through a Saanich neighbourhood early Saturday morning can be traced to a weakened fitting on a cast-iron pipe.

Four homes suffered considerable damage after water burst through the pavement at the intersection of Burnside Road West and Wilkinson Road and caused a gaping sink hole.

“The problem was a cap on a fitting, constructed in the 1950s, and based on methods of the day, it wasn’t restrained as well as it would have been today,” said Ted Robbins, general manager of the CRD’s integrated water services.

Saanich and the CRD partnered to drain and fill the hole, which was repaved by 10 p.m. Saturday night.

“Given the age of some of the regional systems, primarily municipal systems, there are risks like this around. But based on the life expectancy for a section like this, we would expect 75 years, except in this case,” Robbins said.

While some homeowners now face major cleanup and repair costs, other neighbours were impressed by the speed and efficiency of municipal and Capital Regional District crews in repairing the pipes and sinkhole.

“I couldn’t believe it would be completed so soon,” said Gary Hurl, owner-operator of Wigglebums Doggy Daycare at the now repaved corner adjacent to the fomerly chaotic scene.

“I was here Saturday morning to see the sink hole, and by Sunday afternoon it was all patched up. I was shocked too see how smooth Saanich did it,” he said.

(Photos by Gary Hurl)

Hurl lives nearby on the Saanich side of the Gorge. He knows he’s lucky, as one homeowner who recently finished a renovation is back to square one, he said.

The burst pipe created a gaping sink hole and flooded homes in the neighbourhood, releasing an estimated nine million litres of water in about 90 minutes until the pressurized pipe was shut off at the local lift station.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said a 911 call reporting a rolled vehicle on the Trans Canada Highway between Tillicum Road and Helmcken as the first point of contact regarding the burst.

Burnside West and the highway (in both directions) were closed as gushing waters not only reached the highway but also filled at least one home and damaged several more at nearby Belgrave Road.  Drinking water was restored less than 24 hours later.

“Water impacted 12 homes, four of those quite seriously, and for all those people our (Emergency Social Services) were available,” Leonard said.

The gaping sink hole developed in the intersection of Burnside Road West and Wilkinson Road Saturday morning. The burst is the biggest incident of its kind in Saanich since an estimated 30,000 litres of sewage leaked in Cordova Bay in March of 2012.

The CRD has put $130 million into infrastructure replacement programs of water lines since 1995, with another $22 million over the next five years, he added. The cause of the break likely wouldn’t have been scheduled for replacement until 2030, Robbins said.

reporter@saanichnews.com