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Elusive Sundre water main leak identified

Major excavation near Fas Gas station in Sundre to prevent loss of treated water, reduce underground erosion
MVA excavation waterline repair
A crew with UG Excavating Contracting Services Ltd. repairs a water main on the south side of Sundre’s Highway 27-Main Avenue corridor on the west side of the Red Deer River bridge to address an elusive leak that had been haemorrhaging hundreds of cubic metres of treated water underground. Simon Ducatel/MVP Staff

SUNDRE — An elusive water main leak that had been haemorrhaging hundreds of cubic metres of treated water is being repaired.

Local residents and passing motorists undoubtedly recently noticed the major excavation immediately south of the Highway 27-Main Avenue corridor near Fas Gas on the west side of the Red Deer River bridge.

“(It) was a fairly major leak we found with our computer correlating system,” said Jim Hall, the municipality’s operations manager.  

That portion of town’s waterworks system, Hall said, had for more than 10 years previously been a “plague” in terms of “trying to locate the issue but to no avail.”

But a new system that the municipality’s water operator has been using for the last two years to help pinpoint leaks finally helped discover the source of the problem, he said.

The problem meant that a significant amount of treated water supposedly destined to supply residents and businesses, was actually leaching into the ground at the rate of about 400 cubic metres a day, he said.

That volume represents nearly a third of the water treatment plant’s entire output.  

“Our water treatment plant on an average day produces 1,500 cubes of water for our residents and businesses,” he said.

“Leaks such as the one at Fas Gas causes our water treatment plant to produce more water than is consumed/metered.”

So, while the estimated $30,000 cost of the project is substantial, “the savings on the water treatment plant will be excellent,” he said.

But the wasted expense of treating water that ends up leaking into the ground is not the only major problem.

“While the metered aspect of treated water loss can be estimated in a cost, it is more of a concern of capacity and our available licence from (Alberta Environment and Parks),” which is currently 3,200 cubes per day, he said.

Additionally, left unchecked, he said water leaking from the main had the potential to wash out the underground bedding, which in turn could undermine and cause damage to road surfaces.

The project, which is being completed by a crew with UG Excavating Contracting Services Ltd., will also require a new fire hydrant and water piping valves, which could potentially drive the estimated $30,000 price tag higher, he said, adding rain and safety issues can also potentially increase the overall tab.

“As users of the Red Deer River watershed, we always strive to reduce losses,” said Hall, adding the town’s waterworks department “will continue to look for any more leaks for future digs.”

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up and a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.
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