Crews in the Alberta Town of Cochrane have been able to isolate and repair a leaking pipe following major damage to water and wastewater lines on October 21.
Cochrane officials said the line damage was caused by a contractor’s directional drill guide. The resulting break caused an overland sewage discharge into the Bow River at the Highway 22 bridge, as well as a significant loss of water from several local reservoirs.
The incident led to a state of emergency until October 26, for the town of about 34,500 residents, as local officials feared running out of water.
Residents and businesses have been under a level three water restriction.
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Local officials said they had utilized a temporary measure to stop the wastewater from leaking into the river, but had been unable to isolate the leak itself for several days. When crews installed two “crucial” valves, repair crews could access the line and isolate the leak, said Shawn Polley, deputy director of emergency management for the Town of Cochrane.
“Thank you to all residents and businesses for responding to our state of local emergency and doing your part to reduce our water usage during this critical time,” Polley announced in a statement. “As crews diligently work to finalize the water line repair, we kindly request that residents remain conscientious about their water consumption. Although the pipe is no longer leaking, our water system is still in the process of recovering, and the collaborative efforts of our community will help strengthen its capacity.”
To maintain the required water resources to support the community during the crisis, water was trucked in from other sources, including the community of Harmony and the City of Calgary.
The Calgary YMCA also stepped up to help residents and members of the Spray Lake Sawmills Centre by providing free access to all YMCA facilities. Individuals and families impacted by the crisis could use facilities free of charge for recreational use and showering.
Cochrane officials said water quality was never compromised throughout the crisis and that level three water restrictions will continue to be in place until the repairs are fully complete to build capacity in Cochrane’s water system.
More than a dozen residents and a few businesses lost access to water for part of the crisis.