Calgary works to save water as it repairs large feeder main break

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water main break
Crews prepare the feeder main for inspection to determine the next steps and cut out the damaged section of pipe. Photo Credit: City of Calgary

The City of Calgary’s water services team is working to repair a large feeder main break near 16 Avenue N.W. and Home Road, one of the critical transmission lines that moves water across the entire city.

Following the break in the nearly 50-year-old, 11-kilometre feeder main that supplies water to Calgary from the Bearspaw Water Treatment Plant, local officials utilized the Alberta Emergency Alert and the City of Calgary issued a critical water supply alert.

“We have a strong team committed to repairing this feeder main break as soon as possible so that we can once again provide a reliable, safe and secure source of water to all Calgarians and our regional customers,” Water Services Director Nancy Mackay announced in a statement on June 9. “We are working around the clock to make this happen.”

Over the weekend, crews continued clearing water, dirt and debris to assess the site of the leak and successfully removed a damaged portion of the pipe near the break. They were also able to begin a condition assessment to determine what is needed for the repair, which would involve welding in a new section of pipe. 

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Mackay noted that while repair teams are making progress, it is “a complex process” that may take weeks before it is fully resolved for the city’s 1.3 million residents.

water services
The critical water transmission line has severely impacted the supply in Calgary’s reservoirs and the ability to move water across the city. Photo Credit: City of Calgary

“There are still many unknowns, and we want to ensure we take the time to do this right,” Mackay added.

Calgary has been under a Stage 4 outdoor watering ban for all residents and businesses since the water main break in the city’s Bowness area on the evening of June 5 flooded local streets. Since that time, local officials have reported a 27% drop in public water consumption that saved hundreds of thousands of litres.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said local officials have contacted more than 700 of the city’s biggest water consumers to tell them about the water ban and ask for their cooperation. 

The Bowness area remains under a boil water advisory.

All areas have been asked to limit non-essential water use by delaying the use of dishwashers and washing machines; limiting shower times and keeping baths shallow; turning off humidifiers and ice machines; and turning off water taps when not in use.

The break also impacted water pressure in several other areas, including the communities of Parkdale, West Hillhurst, Hillhurst and Scarboro.

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