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Work resumes on broken feeder main; water restrictions remain in place

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Work to repair Calgary's broken water feeder main has resumed after two workers were injured on Wednesday night.

The pair were hit while welding reinforcements to the pipe, which had been lowered into the ground when a come-along they were using snapped and a chain struck the pair.

The mayor made the announcement during her regular update on the progress of the project on Thursday morning.

"Two people were injured on-site overnight," she said.

"Both were taken to hospital and neither were in critical condition."

On Wednesday night, crews were tasked with moving the replacement piece of feeder main into place, so crews could commence work on welding the new section onto the existing pipeline.

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) investigators were on-site through most of Thursday morning.

City manager David Duckworth said one of the workers was a city employee and the other was a contractor.

In a statement emailed to CTV News, OHS said the following:

"It is tragic whenever a worker is hurt on the job. Our goal is focused on having all workers return home safely after every workday. OHS is aware of the incident and is responding to the water main repair site in northwest Calgary."

Consumption increases again: Gondek

The mayor issued another bit of dire news for Calgarians on Thursday.

She said water consumption increased again, bringing it over the "safe threshold."

"Our supply is lower than it has been in the last few days," Gondek said. "This morning, we are at a place where we don't have enough of a cushion for emergencies."

Gondek said it could be that a fire truck arrives at a home in the near future to put out a fire and nothing could be there for firefighters.

"Every day, since Saturday, water usage has been creeping up. It's that extra toilet flush, it's the not-full dishwasher load, it's the desire to take a longer shower. All of that is making a difference," she said.

"I know it's inconvenient. I know it's hard to hear we need to do more, but we must."

Consumption has steadily increased since Saturday, with Wednesday seeing a nine-million-litre increase over Tuesday's water consumption.

Just a block down 16th Avenue from the main repairs, the local car wash in Montgomery was busy with people who were either unaware or didn't care about the voluntary water restrictions.

Matt Ling was working across the street from the car wash on Wednesday and couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"I'm not watering my garden. I'm not (running) my washing machine. I'm not running my dishwasher, and then to see people just coming in, blatantly hosing and scrubbing their cars ... it's a bit of a kick in the pants it seems for everyone in Calgary," Ling said.

"One of the guys came across the road to get gas at the station I was working at and I said, 'You know there's water restrictions on,' and he said, basically, 'Yeah, I don’t care. What are you going to do?'"

The city's director of capital infrastructure,  Francois Bouchart, says the city will eye tighter restrictions on businesses like car washes if consumption continues to climb.

"We don't want to harm anyone's livelihood. We’re working hard to take a measured approach in terms of the restrictions," Bouchart said.

"However, we are prepared to take more firm measures if consumption levels require it."

The mayor levelled her criticism at drivers who see the need to have a shiny car when everyone is being asked to conserve.

"Do you really need to wash your car right now?" Gondek said.

"There are two sides to the coin. If the business is open, do you (still) actually have to go and wash your car?"

'Many unanswered questions'

Duckworth says that while installation work on the water main has been paused pending the safety investigation, inspection work is still allowed to move forward.

"Calgarians still have many unanswered questions," he said on Thursday. "After every emergency, we conduct a thorough post-incident review to find out what happened and why."

Once Calgary's water services have been restored, Duckworth says that will be the time to dive into a full investigation into what caused the feeder main to catastrophically fail.

"(We will) share our findings with council and Calgarians," he said. "Thank you for your patience and understanding."

Water restrictions are still in place for all Calgarians and residents and businesses cannot use water outdoors for any purpose unless they are exempted for health and safety reasons.

Wading pools and spray parks throughout Calgary are also closed until the situation can be resolved.

Calgarians are being asked to continue conserving water for indoor use to help city facilities keep up with demand.

Gondek said all the work the crews have been doing is "critical" and she thanks them for all of their efforts.

"Our hearts are heavy at the city this morning with the news of these injuries," she said.

"Workers have been on-site 24-7 working on this and this is difficult news."

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