16th Avenue N.W. to reopen Friday after water main repairs

All of the repairs to the 11-kilometre-long water feeder main that ruptured earlier this month are complete, the excavation sites are backfilled and there's a fresh layer of pavement overtop. Now, Calgary's mayor says, commuters can expect 16th Avenue N.W. to reopen Friday — but not without a few bumps in the road, though.

"Please be prepared for a few bumps. We're missing just a little bit of pavement," Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Thursday during her regular morning briefing.

Gondek says the roadway is in "good enough shape" to reopen but there's about two inches (5 cm) of pavement missing off the top.

Michael Thompson, the City of Calgary's general manager of infrastructure services, said the top layer of paving could not be completed due to rain last night.

He also addressed a question related to why the city is filling in the excavation sites and repaving before the feeder main is back online.

"The pipe needs to be backfilled as a way to secure it," said Thompson.

Today, he says, crews are focused on rebuilding curbs, installing traffic lights and cleaning the street in the areas where water main repairs occurred.

Water restoration process begins

Earlier this week, city officials explained what the water restoration process would look like, highlighting that Calgary is still days away from its water supply returning fully back to normal.

"Remember, we're filling, we're flushing, we're testing, and then we are getting to stabilization," said the mayor.

City officials say it's difficult to narrow down an exact timeline, but shared this graphic on Tuesday afternoon detailing the water restoration process.
City officials say it's difficult to narrow down an exact timeline for total water restoration, but shared this graphic , which details the restoration process. (City of Calgary)

Currently, the city is on Step 1 of the water restoration process.

Gondek added it will take about 36 hours and 14 million litres of water to refill the 4.5-kilometre section of pipe, but if all goes well, total water restoration could be done ahead of the July 5 schedule.

"But this stage of the return to safe water is also one that presents the most risk," she said.

"We are refilling and reflowing a pipe that received a major shock when it broke on June 5. The shock from that rapid depressurization at that time means we must slowly bring the feeder main back up to regular flow and regular pressure."

3 weeks of water woes

The Bearspaw south feeder main — a large pipe that carries the majority of Calgary's treated water from the Bearspaw Water Treatment Plant to the rest of the city — ruptured three weeks ago.

Its rupture led to outdoor water restrictions, with the city also urging residents and businesses to cut back on their own use to maintain enough water for emergencies, such as fighting fires and use in hospitals.

As of Wednesday, there have been roughly 9,765 calls to the City of Calgary's 311 service about water misuse or the citywide fire ban, both of which are related to the water main break.
The repaved sections of roadway are missing about two inches (5 cm) of pavement on three of the repair sites, according to city officials. They say this will be repaved once crews are done monitoring the pipe. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

City officials continue to warn that even though the repairs are complete, taps could run dry without continued conservation.

Gondek says 473 million litres of water were used in the Calgary area on Wednesday, slightly below the 480-million-litre safety threshold the city says it needs. She also clarified that the city using 25 per cent less water than usual means water usage would be around the 450-million-litre mark.

On Thursday afternoon, she said Calgarians can expect water restrictions will be eased gradually once the water supply is stabilized, starting with indoor voluntary water restrictions and then outdoor mandatory water restrictions.

"It's hard for us to give you a timeline right now."

As of Thursday, there have been nearly 10,000 calls to the City of Calgary's 311 service about water misuse or the citywide fire ban, both of which are related to the water main break. Bylaw officers have issued 17 tickets related to water misuse, and six tickets related to the fire ban.