June 20, 2014 3:15 pm

Flood memories: Workers put lives on the line to protect treatment plant

CALGARY- One year after the flood that ravaged the city, we’re finally hearing from some unsung heroes who put their lives on the line.

As the river swelled on June 20, a surge of sewer water overwhelmed the Bonnybrook wastewater treatment plant. Grates designed to catch solid waste were completely plugged, forcing workers to take extraordinary measures.

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“They were describing what happened on Thursday night at that plant, and what the workers did to try and save that plant, and I will tell you without one word of exaggeration they had the most dangerous job in the city of Calgary during the flood,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said just days later, of their efforts.

“Any of them could have lost their lives at any moment, and they did it to save that plant and to safeguard the safety of Calgary. It was a remarkable and heroic story.”

Brad Hodge was one of those heroes, who worked to get the plant back online.

“When you’re dealing with the flows of wastewater over top of the channels, you don’t know where your next footing is,” Hodge remembers. “There’s gratings that could be pushed up…and with the sharps, the razor blades and the other stuff coming through the plants, you just never know.”

He adds that everyone pulled together to get the dangerous job done.

“I think all wastewater treatment employees knew that their castle had been overtaken, and they were fighting tooth and nail to get it back.”

It took seven days to get the plant back, and even a year later repairs are still being done. The plant processes sewage from about 60 per cent of Calgary.

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