Training pays off after bad break
After a contractor unknowingly severed an intake line May 2, the Alexandria water plant had returned to normal operations 48 hours later.
North Glengarry crews’ training paid off during the repair job, which involved a diver, municipal employees and several contractors.
At around 9 a.m. May 2, the raw water intake pipe at Island Park was ruptured when a contractor sliced through a 14-inch pipe that brings water from Mill Pond to the treatment plant.
At no point was water quality compromised, the township stresses.
The water flow was lost to the plant, but thanks to improved storage conditions, and operational adjustments, service was not affected.
In fact, during the repairs, North Glengarry’s fire department responded to a barn fire near Dalkeith.
Residents were asked to conserve water while crews worked to resolve the situation. Less than 48 hours after the breach, repairs were fully completed and normal operations resumed.
Environmental Services Manager Dean McDonald credits training, planning and the hard work of everyone involved with getting the system back on line so quickly.
“Our emergency services protocols for the Water Works Department were updated in 2018. During tabletop exercises our staff prepared for a variety of emergency scenarios, working out ways in which we would mitigate the impact to residents, while preserving the quality of our water source and acting to institute repairs as quickly as possible. This training enabled our team to be better prepared for emergency situations like this one,” said Mr. McDonald.
Within three hours of the rupture, representatives from Atlas Dewatering were on scene with emergency pumps, and a temporary line was installed in-order to re-establish raw water flow into the water treatment plant, so the plant could produce water and replenish the water tower.
“Atlas Dewatering acted with incredible speed. Last week pumps were in short supply because of the flooding going on in surrounding areas. Atlas Dewatering managed to accommodate us and to arrive as quickly as possible so that our residents continued to have access to safe, quality drinking water,” Mr. McDonald said.
He explained that the importance of the pumps is that they enabled the township to ensure that more than 1,500 water connections, representing approximately 3,000 residents, continued to have high-quality and quantity of water.
Alexandria residents use approximately 2,000 cubic metres of water each day; the tower maintains a supply of approximately 3,000 cubic metres of water. This represents a supply of between 24 and 30 hours of regular service. With the temporary pumps installed, the system operated at normal capacity, treating water at the plant and pumping it to the tower that furnishes a continuous supply to residents.
The intake pipe was installed in Mill Pond in the early 1950s. At that time it was not common practice to install emergency shut-off valves.
“This meant that we couldn't simply turn off a valve to complete the repair, as you would in a normal repair job,” the municipality explained.
Divers from Dundee Marine were brought in and tasked with installing a balloon plug, underwater, at the water intake. This stopped the water from flowing into the damaged pipe area and the contractors were able to begin excavation and repair of the pipe.
A crew from Drain All Ltd., helped locate the pipe, dewater the dig site and flush to remove debris. Raymond Theoret Excavation was used to excavate the site by carefully digging down to expose the broken pipe. The next step involved using the services of HydroCam to video inspect the affected area and to ensure no further damages or debris were observed. Crews from Clarence MacDonald Excavation and the waterworks department then installed the repair fittings and pipe.
Once completed the divers then removed the balloon plug and by 10 p.m. Friday normal operations had resumed.
“The township has emergency protocol procedures in place for situations like this. Following this incident our staff will review everything that happened, and we will discuss preventive actions to not only react to situations like this one, but to prevent future ones. I'm proud of all of the hard work done by our staff and by everyone who helped to restore the network,” said Mr. McDonald.
The impact of the damage was restricted to Alexandria. Residents in Glen Robertson were not impacted, as they are on a separate system.
MISLOCATED: A contractor broke a pipe leading to the Alexandria water plant last week, however, the mishap did not affect the quality of water.