Prevent Frozen Water Lines

Water lines that remain unprotected from the cold weather are at risk of freezing. All customers are encouraged to take preventative measures to protect their internal and external water service lines.

Effective January 7, 2021
Due to varying frost levels in the ground throughout the city, select residents have received phone call direction from City Assets to request that they begin to run a cold-water faucet as a preventative measure in reducing the risk of a frozen water service. If you have received this direction, please continue to leave a cold-water faucet running 24 hours per day. 

Frost levels in the ground continue to be monitored. There remains to be no imminent risk for frozen water services in other areas of the city. Unless otherwise directed, cold-water faucets do not need to be turned on and left running at this time. The weather can be unpredictable, please check back frequently.

Closeup of kitchen faucet with running water

Consider the following actions to protect your water lines from freezing:

  • Repair broken windows and ensure windows and vents are closed during the winter.
  • Insulate water lines in unheated areas, including crawl spaces.
  • For sinks located against a non-insulated outside wall:
    • Open the vanity door to allow warm air to reach the water line.
    • Heat tape wrapped around the line may keep the pipe from freezing.
  • Residents in mobile homes should check the condition of the heat tape on their water service and water meter.
  • Water faucets outdoors and underground sprinkler systems should have the water supply shut off inside the house at the isolation valve for the faucet/hose bib.
  • Irrigation lines should be drained/blown out.
  • Run a stream of cold water (the width of a pen) continuously from at least one faucet.
  • If you plan to be away from home over the winter period:
    • Close the main water isolation valve located next to the water meter.
    • Leave the heat on in your home and set to a reasonable temperature.
    • Have someone check inside your home frequently.

A frozen water service, or a burst water pipe, is an inconvenience and expense most people would like to avoid. Please take all possible precautions to prevent this happening in your home or business.

If you think you have a frozen water line, please contact us during business hours at 403-529-8176 or after-hours at 403-502-8042.

"Water Lines at Risk" Rebate Program

We maintain records that help determine areas or properties whose water lines are at particularly high risk of freezing during extreme cold temperatures. To avoid the expense and inconvenience of an emergency break, the City proactively contacts select "at risk" customers who may need to perform immediate mitigation in order to save our infrastructure. Those customers only are then eligible for the "Water Lines at Risk" utility rebate program.

If you have not been directly contacted by the City to run your water continuously during extreme cold temperatures, you may still choose to do so as a responsible, proactive measure for your property, but you would not be eligible for the rebate.

For further information, please review this list of common questions. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact us.

(Updated December 1, 2021)

Who is eligible for the water rebate program? 

Customers who have received a letter from the City and are directed to start running the cold-water faucet are eligible for the rebate.

How does the rebate program work?
While the program is in effect, selected residents who are directed by the City to continuously run one of their cold-water faucets receive the first 75m3 of water consumption per month free of charge. The flow should be set at about the width of a pen to prevent your water service line from freezing.
Why do I have to run my cold-water faucet?
Running a cold-water faucet with the flow the width of a pen (approximately 1/8 inch) will help prevent your water service line from freezing up when the temperature drops well below freezing for a prolonged period of time. 
Why do water service lines freeze up?
In winter, the frost goes deeper into the ground the longer the temperatures stay well below freezing and can eventually get deep enough to freeze water service lines that have no flow going through them.
When do I start to run my cold-water faucet?

We will post on the City’s website when you should start to run your cold-water faucet. The cold-water faucet should be left running continuously, “24/7” until the website is updated to indicate that it is safe to shut it off.

We suggest putting a notice on the selected cold-water faucet to prevent other occupants in the house/business from turning it off by mistake.

You do not need to run your faucet continuously until directed to do so.

What does “running the faucet continuously” mean?
Continuously means running the water 24 hours per day. Faucets that have been turned off for a few hours or overnight have resulted in frozen water lines. Customers who have had a frozen water line repaired but do not continuously run a faucet following the repair may incur a fee applied to their utility account for an additional emergency call.
How can I be sure I am using the proper amount?

A faucet running a pen-width in diameter should use approximately 1-2 cubic metres per day.

This same volume should take 4-8 seconds for 100 mL, or 10-20 seconds to fill 1 cup.

Log on to your eUtility account to monitor your water consumption.

How do I make sure I get the rebate?

You will qualify for the rebate automatically if you receive a letter and only if it is recommended by the City to start running water. You may choose to contact us at 403-529-8176 to confirm. The City will verify that your information is correct by checking automated meter (AMI) data.

The discount will be credited to your account on a future utility bill once we have directed that it is safe to turn off the cold-water faucet.

I don’t understand how the rebate works

If you have been notified by a letter from the City of Medicine Hat regarding frozen water lines and run your tap continuously from the time indicated, you will automatically receive a credit equivalent of up to 75m3 of water volume per month on your utility account.

The City will use automated meter (AMI) billing data to verify that you have been continuously running your tap for the time period directed.

You can monitor how much water you are using each day by checking your water meter or logging into your own eUtility account on the City’s website.

How did you choose 75m3 as the amount?

A rebate of 75m3 will allow those directed to run their faucet continuously at 1-2m3 per day (flow the width of a pen) without incurring extra costs.

If you use more than 75m3 per month you will be responsible for covering the cost of the additional water consumption.

Is this discount for all winter? Is this discount retroactive to past winters?
The discount only applies to the time period that you have been instructed by the City to run your water continuously. The rebate only applies to the Utility Account holders of previously affected addresses who
receive a letter from us. It is not retroactive to previous months or winters.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation! Residents who choose to run their taps or take other
precautionary measures help us during extreme cold winter temperatures.