Repairs on Calgary's broken feeder main are now complete, but water service not yet restored

Officials say they have been tracking all of the costs associated with a major feeder main break that disrupted Calgary's water supply, but no figures have yet been shared with the public. (Fritzology Inc./City of Calgary - image credit)
Officials say they have been tracking all of the costs associated with a major feeder main break that disrupted Calgary's water supply, but no figures have yet been shared with the public. (Fritzology Inc./City of Calgary - image credit)

Repair work on the five additional "hot spots" of the feeder main that ruptured is now complete, but the full restoration of Calgary's water supply is still days away.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek shared the news during her Tuesday afternoon update on the developments of the Bearspaw south feeder main, saying the underground repair work on the pipe has now been completed and the city is hopefully on track to have water service restored before the Calgary Stampede.

"That date is still a good guideline," said Gondek when asked about the city's previous July 5 completion timeline.

"We have heard some concerns over the last few days about why we're allowing Stampede to move forward given the state of restrictions here," said Michael Thompson, the City of Calgary's general manager of infrastructure services.

"Many businesses and industries rely on the Stampede as a critical event for survival and employment. As we've said before, we are aiming for the earliest possible restoration of service in our original timeline of three to five weeks, which means we could be getting back into service in time for the start of Stampede."

Even though the underground repair work is complete, the next stage of bringing the city's water supply back to full capacity is just getting started.

The mayor says crews still need time to flush the pipe, fill it, test the water quality and adjust from partial pressure to regular pressure.

"We're still days away from regular water flow," Gondek said.

"We're still relying on the smaller facility at Glenmore to provide water throughout the city."

Plus, backfilling the pipe repair sites will begin on Tuesday and continue into Wednesday, so traffic disruptions will continue for some time.

City of Calgary director of capital priorities and investment, Francois Bouchart, says that because the system has "undergone a major shock," crews need to move carefully.

"We have four steps: filling the feeder main, flushing the feeder main, testing the water and then stabilizing the system," said Bouchart.

"This is delicate work. Each one of these steps carries risk, and it's likely that we could have some setbacks along the way."

The Bearspaw south water feeder main, a major pipe that supplies nearly 60 per cent of the city's potable water, ruptured on June 5.

Its rupture led to outdoor water restrictions, with the city also urging residents and businesses to cut back on their own use to help ensure an adequate water supply.

During Tuesday's afternoon briefing, officials continued to urge residents to curb their usage, as demand for treated water has been increasing once again.

Stage 4 outdoor water restrictions and a citywide fire ban remain in effect.