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Pipe sections needed to fix water main break arrive in Calgary

The components needed to repair a catastrophic main break that triggered outdoor watering restrictions and necessary conservation efforts arrived in Calgary from San Diego, Calif., last night and are now being prepped for installation.

During an update about the developments of the Bearspaw south water main repairs, Mayor Jyoti Gondek thanked the southern California county’s water authority, saying a local shop is in the process of sandblasting the pipe and coating it with epoxy to ensure it’s ready to go as crews repair the hotspots.

“As we heard yesterday, these hotspots are not leaks, they are sections of the feeder main that needed an immediate repair,” Gondek said.

  • City officials are set to provide an update at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Watch it live here or on the CBC Alberta YouTube channel.

The Bearspaw south feeder main, which is 11 kilometres long and as wide as two metres in parts, suffered a break on June 5 that temporarily left hundreds of homes and businesses in the city’s northwest without water.

Since then, a fire ban has been in place for the city, and outdoor water restrictions remain active in an effort to preserve water.

Two workmen stand next to an exposed section of water main pipe.
Crews work to repair a main break in Calgary. (Fritzology Inc./City of Calgary)

Responding to questions about why the infrastructure was brought in from San Diego as opposed to it being sourced from somewhere closer, Gondek said the size of the pipe posed a challenge.

“This is not generally the size of pipe that is used in oil and gas operations,” she said.

“Generally, if this type of a part is available, it’s because an organization that provides water to residents is the one that has it on hand … that’s why the San Diego County Water Authority has been such an important partner for us.”

While repairs continue, officials are still urging Calgarians to keep up water saving efforts. On Tuesday, 450 million litres were used across the city, meaning that usage has been trending down for four consecutive days.

The safety threshold for sufficient water supply is 480 million litres.

When an inspection found five additional hotspots in the pipe that needed to be fixed, a repair timeline of three to five weeks was given.

Gondek said Tuesday that an updated timeline will be provided once excavation and inspection work on those hotspots is done.

On Tuesday, the provincial government issued two temporary diversion licences to the City of Calgary, which allows 200,000 cubic metres (200 million litres) for non-potable industrial use, with diversion points out of the Bow River.

It means the city can track and manage water withdrawals and access from the river for the duration of those permits.

Ryan Fournier, the press secretary for the provincial ministry of Environment and Protected Areas said it’s an attempt to ease the pressure on the potable water system that is stressed due to the line break.

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