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Calgary marks two weeks of water restrictions, aiming for pipe fix July 5

CALGARY — It has been two weeks since a massive water pipe ruptured in Calgary, leaving residents under restrictions.
Wednesday marks two weeks since a massive pipe ruptured in Calgary and left its residents under water restrictions. Work to repair a the water main stretches into a second day in Calgary, Friday, June 7, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — It has been two weeks since a massive water pipe ruptured in Calgary, leaving residents under restrictions.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Wednesday also marked the fourth day in a row Calgarians have successfully used less water than the city produces, avoiding the risk of the taps going dry.

"We have enough of an emergency supply to fight fires and act as backup if needed in hospitals and care facilities," Gondek said at a media briefing.

She said Calgarians have saved the equivalent of 600 Olympic swimming pools full of water since the pipe broke on June 5.

"That is absolutely a gold medal effort," she said.

Calgary, a city of 1.6 million people, and surrounding municipalities have been under a combination of mandatory and voluntary water restrictions since the water main burst in the city's northwest.

All outdoor watering is banned and people have been urged to reduce toilet flushes, take shorter showers and do fewer loads of laundry and dishes.

The city had said it could take until mid-July to make necessary repairs and get water flowing through the pipe again.

Michael Thompson, general manager of Infrastructure Services, said the city is now aiming for July 5.

"There are still many risks ahead, but every day we work through this complex repair, we become more confident in our timeline."

Two workers injured last week while working on the repairs have been released from hospital, she added. One is already back on the job.

Two new pieces of pipe were trucked in from San Diego and engineers were to begin work to replace defective spots.

The city already had three needed pieces of pipe, said Gondek. The other two were to be sandblasted and covered with epoxy before being used to fix problem areas.

"These hot spots are not actually leaks, but they are sections of the feeder main that needed immediate repair, and this is what we found by the inspection that was done by the robots," Gondek said.

Gondek said areas that need to be replaced have been excavated and work has started.

Coby Duerr, acting chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said city crews are cutting down on use by spraying dechlorinated water from swimming pools to wash bridges and bridge decks.

The city is also working with the construction industry to open two locations on the Bow River for companies to access non-potable water for their projects, Duerr said. The Alberta government expedited permits for the move.

Duerr added that he's concerned city employees are being filmed, harassed and called names while doing repair work.

We have heard this happening when crews are performing necessary procedures, where they must flush water from pipes," he said.

"This behaviour is not OK."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press