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Work temporarily halted on Calgary water pipe due to injuries; however, water consumption continues to increase.


Repairs to a fractured Calgary water pipe were paused on June 13 after two workers were injured at the site, while the city’s mayor pleaded with residents to step up their conservation efforts.

“I want you to think about a fire truck pulling up, facing a serious situation,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said in a morning media update.

“They hook up to a hydrant and dribbles come out. This could be a reality if we don’t start conserving more water.”

Ms. Gondek said daily water use increased by another eight million litres on June 12. That would bring the city’s consumption up to 490 million litres—well above the June 8 440-million-litre mark and right on the city’s threshold for safety.

“We are in a place where we don’t have enough of a cushion for emergencies,” she said. “There’s still a real chance we could run out of water.

“I know this is inconvenient, I know it’s hard to hear that we must do more. But we simply must.”

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Still, repair work on the line—which carried 60 percent of the city’s water—was not expected to resume until June 13 afternoon at the earliest after the workers were injured about 10 p.m. on June 12.

“Both workers were transported to hospital and work was paused pending a safety investigation,” said Calgary chief administrative officer David Duckworth.

Neither worker was in critical condition.

Mr. Duckworth said officials were concerned with repairing the pipe and that questions about what caused the break could wait.

“Out teams are focused on carefully restoring our complex water system,” he said. “Once the emergency has been addressed and water service restored, we can turn our attention to what happened and how.”

All residents have been asked to cut their water usage at home with measures like shorter showers and fewer toilet flushes. A mandatory ban was ordered on outdoor watering and window washing.

The break occurred June 5, making June 13 Calgary’s eighth day of restrictions.

A seven-metre section of replacement pipe, big enough in diameter for a car to drive through, arrived on the site Tuesday.

Installing and welding the new pipe into place was expected to take about two days. Flushing and filling the pipe will take another three. Finally, readying the new section of pipe for water flow into the city’s underground reservoirs will take two days.

City officials have said the pipe was 49 years into its expected 100-year life and there was no indication from any of the city’s monitoring that the pipe was about to fail. Modelling of pipe stresses, including factors like age, pipe materials and operating pressures, didn’t suggest an inspection was needed, said infrastructure manager Francois Bouchard.

The pipe was running within its pressure limits. Acoustic monitors, designed to detect early signs of failure, revealed none.

Mr. Bouchard said physically inspecting the pipe would have required shutting it down and digging it up, putting stress on both it and other pipes in the system.

Emergency Management Chief Sue Henry said on June 12 bylaw officers were taking an “education approach” to calls about improper water use.

She said the city had received 1,170 such calls and responded to 1,077 of them. Officers had issued 306 written warnings, 368 verbal warnings and one summons.



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