Rough repair timeline released after Calgary water main break

Click to play video: 'Calgary water main break: City provides timeline for pipeline replacement'
Calgary water main break: City provides timeline for pipeline replacement
WATCH ABOVE: While a boil water advisory issued last week for Bowness residents in Calgary was lifted, the city continues to face water supply concerns as crews respond to a significant water main break that happened last week. Mayor Jyoti Gondek requested residents on Tuesday to limit their shower times, toilet flushes, and laundry loads until the main feeder is repaired.

People tasked with planning and co-ordinating repairs following a massive water main break in Calgary last week gave city council a rough timeline on Tuesday for when that work is expected to be completed.

City councillors were told that crews expect to have the feeder main repaired by Thursday. Still, flushing and testing will be required after that, which is expected to take several more days.

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While a boil water advisory that had been issued last week for a northwest Calgary neighbourhood has now been lifted, the city continues to face water supply concerns as crews respond to the significant water main break that happened last week.

In a news release issued Monday night, Alberta Health Services said it had rescinded a boil water advisory that had been in place for the Bowness neighbourhood for several days.

“As water quality has been restored, the boil water advisory issued June 5, 2024, has been lifted, effective immediately,” the health authority said.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek delivered a brief on-camera statement about the situation on Tuesday morning and described the lifting of the boil water advisory in Bowness as “incredibly good news for the people and businesses in that community.”

Speaking to reporters at city hall on Tuesday, Coun. Sonya Sharp described the boil water advisory being lifted as “a big relief.”

“(For people) to know that they could turn on their tap, … that is so important,” she said. “We expected this to go a little longer into the week.”

A water main break occurred in the Montgomery neighbourhood on Wednesday and resulted in the boil water advisory being issued for Bowness. As a result of the break, Calgarians were also asked to stop using water outdoors and do their best to minimize indoor water use.

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City officials have described the broken feeder main as a “critical water transmission line.” They note the damage has “severely impacted” Calgary’s water supply and the ability to move water across the city and have warned that without conservation efforts from Calgarians, supply may not be able to meet demand.

Click to play video: 'Calgary water main break: City was preparing for inspection of feeder in winter'
Calgary water main break: City was preparing for inspection of feeder in winter

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Gondek said that water conservation efforts from Calgarians have helped saved the equivalent of 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of water. She noted that Calgarians must continue to conserve water in the coming days.

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She said she was grateful to citizens for how they have responded to the situation over the last few days.

Gondek said preliminary data indicates that Calgarians used 472 million litres of water on Monday, which is up from the weekend.

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“The feeder main has not been repaired yet,” she noted. “So you and I need to make sure that we’re not using any outdoor water and inside our homes we need to stick with limiting shower times, toilet flushes and dishwasher and laundry loads.

“We’ve all done really well so far over the past five days. And thanks to your diligence, we remain under the daily maximum threshold of 480 million litres of consumption.”

Gondek noted that as of Monday morning, the city’s supply was at about 616 million litres, but reminded Calgarians that in addition to water being consumed by homes and businesses, extra supply is needed for firefighters to be able to hand large emergencies or unforeseen situations.

“Our water supplies are gridlocked (but) we’re going to be alright. We’re going to get it up and running,” she told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

Gondek noted that she believes the situation has also illustrated “what we could do to be better water stewards.”

In a news release issued late Monday afternoon, city officials said crews are “advancing on work to repair … (the) large feeder main break.”

They said crews had already removed a section of damaged pipe, and the removal of two more was underway. They added that video was being reviewed to help understand the extent of the damage.

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A timeline for lifting the water restrictions is still being worked on.

Nancy Mackay, the City of Calgary’s water services director said on Tuesday afternoon that crews still need to install and weld a replacement pipe, which was expected to arrive later that day. Installation of the replacement pipe will take about two days.

Crews will then fill and flush the feeder main, which means moving all the water out of the pipe and removing any sediment that may be remaining in the newly installed pipe. Mackay said this process is expected to take up to three days.

Mackay added that crews will then fill the pipe to restore service, which will take another two days.

“I want to thank the crews, engineers and other dedicated staff we have working 24/7 to repair the Bearspaw South Feedermain and restore normal water supply across our city,” Mackay said.

“We are very grateful to Calgarians and local businesses who have been so patient as we work on these repairs. Your actions to reduce water use are making it possible for us to do this critical work.”

Sharp noted that she hopes people recognize “this is very dynamic and a very large pipe.”

“I think what’s important is that it gets fixed and it gets fixed right,” she said. “I think Calgarians are showing the patience and resiliency that we expected them to.

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“We do need to give everyone the space to fix it, and fix it right.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary water main break: Mayor Gondek says incident should ‘spotlight’ importance of infrastructure funding'
Calgary water main break: Mayor Gondek says incident should ‘spotlight’ importance of infrastructure funding

Fire restrictions to be eased for some construction work

On Tuesday, Calgary’s fire chief told city councillors the fire department will be relaxing some fire restrictions put into place last week in an effort to mitigate the risk of crews battling large fires while water supply was limited.

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While a fire ban remains in place for the city, Steve Dongworth said the restrictions being eased are ones that impacted the city’s construction sector.

He explained those restrictions covered “hot works,” which include a long list of construction work that uses direct flames or creates sparks.

The Calgary Fire Department will now allow roofing work that involves hot air, welding and cold-processes roofing, including new construction projects. Construction sites must conduct a fire watch 60 minutes after application of these materials, and must be inspected four hours after completion. Additional fire extinguishers must also be available on site.

Some activities to be resumed at recreation centres

All weight rooms, fitness rooms and non-water-based programs will resume at the city’s recreation facilities effective Tuesday. Pools and showers, however, will remain closed.

According to Susan Henry, the chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, all facilities will be adjusting programming to use as little water as possible. However, normal hours of operation will resume on Tuesday.

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People who had any cancelled programs, bookings, classes and lessons will be notified by email and automatically refunded. Henry noted that the refunds may take up to two weeks due to the high volume of inquiries.

Recreation passes will also be extended based on service impacts.

For the latest updates from the City of Calgary, you can follow the city’s social media channels or click on its website here.

For the latest Alberta Emergency Alerts, you can click on the province’s website here.

–With files from Adam MacVicar and Paula Tran, Global News

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