Last year’s huge water pipe rupture - that stopped the flow of drinking water from Lake Huron to half-a-million people - cost more to repair than expected.

The final tally for the May 2012 break was released and it added up to $1.3 million.

The cost of the construction work and the money to compensate landowners for damaged fields were about equal.

The break forced water restrictions in London and across the region and at the same time damaged farm fields.

Those fields, near Mount Carmel, are finally returning to normal 15 months later.

The board, which overseas the pipe on behalf of the municipalities that own it, learned the costs Thursday.

“The amount of damage restoration required was significantly more than we anticipated,” says Andrew Henry of Lake Huron & Elgin Area Water Supply Systems.

In total, about 25 acres of land was considered severely damaged by the rupture, requiring lengthy and expensive restoration work.

Where the water eroded the land away, 260 truckloads of topsoil had to be carried in.

The cost of making this single repair was equivalent to doing 10 to 15 smaller maintenance repairs.

“It is better to go in and fix a specific location than to have it explode on us and then it damages acres and acres of land,” says Councillor Harold Usher, chair of the Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System Joint Board of Management.

Staff at the water supply system say the break is a good reminder of why preventative maintenance and monitoring are important.

“The technology that’s available to us is getting much better and allows us to proactively look at weaknesses and make timely repairs,” Henry says.

A similar break in 1988 cost about $30,000 to repair.