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Frost hampers Bowden watermain repair crews

One watermain break just north of the post office in Bowden cost the town roughly $10,000
MVT Bowden Skotheim watermains cr
Bowden chief administrative officer Greg Skotheim explains the difficulties encountered by crews repairing a watermain break downtown during the recent council meeting. Doug Collie/MVP Staff

BOWDEN — The town has already been hit with a few watermain breaks and the spring freeze-thaw season when those breaks tend to occur, has not really begun. 

One break, which occurred Feb. 7 on 21st Avenue just north of the post office, cost about $10,000, chief administrative officer Greg Skotheim said during council’s Feb. 14 council meeting. 

He noted the municipality has earmarked replacement of some pipes downtown in its five-year capital plan. 

In his report to council, Skotheim noted the watermain break on 21st Street was especially difficult to get at because crews had to dig through seven feet of frost. 

It took them two days to repair the break. 

“The roads, they really pound the frost down, so you need big equipment," he told council. 

"Usually watermain breaks, they come up to the surface; they come straight up. But with this frost, it kinda went this way and then this way, so it took a lot of digging.  

“It was a $10,000 watermain break. So not good, but that’s the best we could do.” 

“It took longer to repair, due to excessive frost,” Skotheim wrote in his report. “It also required a compliance report to (Alberta Environment) and water sampling, due to households having their water shut off with no pressure.” 

Skotheim said cast pipes in the downtown area need to be replaced, including near the Lions Hall. He said that project is in the Town of Bowden's five-year capital plan. 

Three watermain breaks or leaks – including two in February -- have also occurred at homes in the town. 

That resulted in a lot of unmetered water going through.  

“We were over 20 cubes (cubic metres) there for a while,” he said. 

That problem has now been rectified. As a result, Skotheim said, water consumption is now “substantially below” that figure. 

Skotheim also noted in his report that repairs had to be made to curb stops as a result of at least one of the residential watermain breaks. Curb stops are outside water shut-off valves, normally located near curbs. 

“They had curb stops, but we were unable to shut one of them off,” Skotheim told councillors.  

“It’s hard,” he added. “Curb stops are tough in over there because they freeze up. A lot of times they haven’t been used in 20 years.” 

Doug Collie

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