February 16, 2019 1:33 am
Updated: February 16, 2019 9:53 pm

Edmonton crews trying to clear ice after water main break, major flooding downtown

WATCH ABOVE: Reports of a water main break and flooding near 108 Street and 104 Avenue Friday night forced road closures. EPCOR managed to find the issue and shut the water off at 4 a.m. Albert Delitala speaks to area businesses about the water damage.

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A busy part of downtown Edmonton was the sight of significant flooding on Friday night.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services told Global News the flooding by 109 Street between 103 Avenue and 104 Avenue was caused when a water main line broke. Fire crews were called to respond the scene at 9:19 p.m.

EPCOR clarified Saturday the source was a 12-inch transmission line at the southeast corner of 108 Street and the south side of 104 Avenue.

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“It is pretty unique but we do incur breaks in our transmission system,” said Keath Witwicki, senior manager of construction and maintenance with EPCOR. “There is more water in those pipes. We carry a lot more water to the outer areas of the city.

“When there are failures, at times, we can incur large volumes of water, like we saw last night.”

READ MORE: Water main break damages south Edmonton businesses

Watch below: (From Feb. 14, 2019) A building in Edmonton’s McKernan neighbourhood suffered damage on Wednesday after a water main break.

A fire spokesperson said crews would remain on scene until EPCOR was able to take control of the situation. The spokesperson said they were not aware of any evacuations being triggered by the water.

Police officers were called in to direct traffic and shortly before 10:30 p.m., police tweeted that EPCOR was at the scene.

EPCOR said crews were able to isolate the break and turn the water off at around 4 a.m. Saturday.

“At this time of year, as the cold weather comes about, it causes the frost to go deeper into the ground,” Witwicki said.

“What happens is the earth shifts and then it causes some pressure on the main and then they’ll break at times.”

Then, the utility company worked with the city to clear out the ice. Roads were closed to traffic as crews worked.

Graders were out, EPCOR said, and crews were still on scene working on repairs as of 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Witwicki said they’d also be doing excavating work.

Graham Peacock is an artist who uses basement space in the area for his studio.

“I was horrified that I could be walking into four feet of water and total destruction of 50-odd years of work,” he told Global News on Saturday.

“I got up and came to the studio and rescued anything that was sitting on the floor, waded around until I was wet halfway up my legs.”

Most of his inventory is elevated because the space has had water issues in the past.

Artist Graham Peacock looks through his work after a flood in downtown Edmonton Feb. 16, 2019.

Albert Delitala, Global News

Peacock estimates there is a few thousand dollars’ worth of damage. It could have been much worse, he said.

“If that had been allowed to continue and this basement filled, it would have been a disaster on a grand scale.

“All the carpets are wet and there’s still trickle residue, so there’s need for dehumidifiers and fans to dry it… It will take days, if not weeks, to get rid of the humidity.”

EPCOR advised people of another water main break impacting drivers on Saturday.

Crews were responding to a break near 109 Street and 81 Avenue.

Steven Rockarts said it was about 10 p.m. Friday when he was in a car with his fiancée and they came across the flooding downtown.

“We just saw the fire trucks and the traffic was moving slow so… all of a sudden we were in a bunch of probably knee-deep water and you could actually see it flooding out of one of the parking lots.

“It was kind of scary cause it was already starting to freeze when we were sliding around in the water.”

View photos in the gallery below:

 

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