City errs on side of caution during water main repairs

Matt Gardner
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When it comes to water main repairs, the city public works department would rather be safe than sorry.

Vapour escapes from a hole on River Street West on Wednesday afternoon during water main repairs.

On Wednesday, the city issued an advisory to residents that they might experience low water pressure and discoloured water due to water main repairs in the Westview, west flat, east flat and midtown areas.

“It’s just a precautionary thing to let people know what we were up to, and that if they did experience something that it wasn’t something to become really alarmed about -- that it was something that we were aware … was a potential outcome,” public works director Colin Innes said.

The need to undertake repairs stemmed from a broken valve that city crews were unable to isolate and properly close the valve.

When performing water main repairs, workers must shut off valves in order to hold back the water while digging holes -- a task rendered considerably more difficult by an improperly closing valve.

Repairing the improperly closing valve, however, had the potential to affect the water supply for local residents due to the increased presence of iron minerals in the water.

“Because of what we were doing, you can get some of the reversals in the water system, and because of that you pick up some of the iron that gets deposited inside of the pipe that’ll get kicked up,” Innes said.

“So basically the implication largely is that you go to run the tap and then it’ll have an orange-y tinge to it … After it’s run and been flushed it gets rid of that, but … we just wanted people to know that because of what we were doing, we knew that there could be low water pressure and that there could be some discoloured water.”

We just wanted people to know that because of what we were doing, we knew that there could be low water pressure and that there could be some discoloured water. Colin Innes

As it turned out, the city ended up receiving few, if any, calls on Wednesday regarding discoloured water or low pressure.

“We didn’t have a whole bunch of calls. I don’t even think actually we had one, to tell you the truth,” Innes said.

“I think most of the response is more people reading some of the news releases and wondering what was going on with that.”

The water main repairs were expected to be completed by the end of the day.

Innes indicated that the city will monitor developments going forward to gauge whether any further repairs are necessary.

“I think the guys have some more work that they need to do, but from what I understand, just based on the scheduling of things and what they’ve got on their plates, that they wouldn’t be doing any more of this that would lead to something like this here for the remainder of the week,” Innes said.

“I think that they were planning on doing some more work with a couple of different valves next week, but I guess we’ll have to see whether we’re going to experience any trouble with those valves or if we’re able to close them.

“If we’re able to close them, then it won’t be an issue at all.”

Geographic location: Westview

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