Reservoirs recovered after water main break 

Tapley's section of River of Golden Dreams closed

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - Waterworks Municipal crews work to repair a water main break on Lorimer Road on Thursday, Aug. 16.
  • photo by braden dupuis
  • Waterworks Municipal crews work to repair a water main break on Lorimer Road on Thursday, Aug. 16.

Whistler's reservoirs have returned to normal after a water main break last Tuesday, Aug. 7, while the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) awaits more answers about the cause.

The piece of pipe in question was installed in 2008, and wasn't slated for replacement until 2077, said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"They've taken the piece of pipe that failed and it will be tested," she said.

"There will be engineering reports on what happened, and what this will mean for inspections and the follow-up work on the remaining pipe, and all of that work will probably take a couple of months."

Staff will make a presentation to council on Sept. 4 summarizing what happened and what decisions were made to contain the situation.

It's unclear how long the break went unnoticed, or how much water was lost, the mayor said, though she did note the edges of the failed pipe were corroded.

"There was always some moisture, some water in one of the ditches adjacent to the break, so we're thinking that it was probably failing for quite some time," she said.

A total repair cost hasn't been pinpointed yet, either, though Wilhelm-Morden said her understanding is it's in the tens of thousands of dollars.

"I think—I hope—it's a one-off, but it really is a good reminder about the importance of maintaining our water system infrastructure," she said, adding that the RMOW completed a replacement study for the water system in 2014.

"We add new information as time goes on ... That plan really forms the basis of our current and our future works, and it's really important work."

Though Whistler jumped from Stage 1 water conservation to Stage 4 on Aug. 15, reservoirs had recovered substantially enough by Monday, Aug. 20 that the RMOW bumped the conservation stage back down to 1.

(Stage 1 allows for overnight watering and irrigation, as well as vegetable garden watering, car washing and the filling of pools and hot tubs. See more at www.whistler.ca/waterconservation).

"It's remarkable that this serious, major water main repair was done within four days, so kudos to staff and to the contractors who were involved," Wilhelm-Morden said.

And kudos, too, to the residents and businesses who stepped up to conserve water, the mayor added.

"I really want to commend everybody in the community, because our Plan B was to activate the Blackcomb Creek intake, but that's non-potable water, and we would have had to be on a boil water advisory for at least two weeks if we did that," she said.

"By jumping to Stage 4 and by having the community respond the way it did, we were able to build the reservoir levels back up so that there was adequate fire storage."

Meanwhile, the Tapley's section of the River of Golden Dreams (from the Alta Lake fish weir to the CN Rail bridge) is now closed to protect the shallow spawning beds and rearing grounds of rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.

This closure will be in effect until mid-to-late October.

Boaters are asked to launch from the portage trail below the lower railway bridge (accessed from the end of Lorimer Road) or to portage the section from the Alta Lake Fish weir to the lower railway bridge.

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