By David F. Rooney
That Boil Water Advisory has been extended until Monday, June 8.
A statement from the City, issued at 3:35 pm on Friday afternoon, said the advisory will be kept in place all weekend. (Please click here to read the statement, verbatim.)
“We have to be sure that the untreated water is through the distribution system,” Engineering sand Development Services Director Mike Thomas told The Current about 90 minutes later. “While we did flush a lot of water out today, the untreated water did make it from Greeley into the system, including the Trans-Canada reservoir, as such, we have a large volume of water that we need to go through before the untreated water is out of the system.
“The City’s water operators put in a 12-hour day responding to this, as a result, the system is stable, and we will have staff continue to review the status over the weekend. At this point, even if it wasn’t a weekend, we rely on time for the water to be flushed through the system as a precaution. Note that I’m working on some calculations with IHA to determine a safe point in time to lift the notice, based on usage, flows and storage in the system, to see if it would be at all possible to lift it sooner.
“I recognize that this is an inconvenience to residents and businesses, and we are working to restore the water system to full potable use as soon as possible.”
As Thomas noted it has been a long day for City staff… This mess began at about 4 am when an RCMP officer, who was accompanied by Plant Operator Doug Pendergast, responding to an alarm triggered by a motion sensor at the City’s Greeley Water Treatment Plant was one of the first people to discover that there was a major problem with Revelstoke’s potable water supply.
Imagine the Mountie’s surprise when, on his first trip ever to the plant, he found not a prowler but water — lots and lots of water.
Ironically, while the consequences (flooded floor space at the plant and a city-wide Boil Water Advisory issued by Interior Health) were major, the actual cause of the problem itself was, according to Engineering and Development Services Director Mike Thomas, “fairly simple” — a broken coupling on a 16-inch steel water main under the filtration pond. (You can see photos of the offending water main and its repair process in the photos at the end of this story.)
Gushing water filled the plant, covering its extensive floor space in H2O.
Thomas said City staff were roused from bed and arrived on the scene very quickly. About 10 City workers have been involved in this incident.
Thomas said he spent much of this morning dealing with Interior Health, Mayor McKee and members of City Council.
A Boil Water Advisory was immediately issued to all Revelstoke residents who rely on City water. City staff also turned on the deep well at the golf course and back-filled the Trans Canada water tank.
But the work didn’t stop once the water was stopped and the coupling replaced.
Workers are checking the walls and floors of the treatment plant to ensure that everything is dried out and the water system has now been re-pressurized. That means water is now available for things like fire fighting, however, it doesn’t mean you can now start drinking water out of the tap.
“The repair is complete and we are delivering filtered chlorinated water,” Thomas said. “We are just starting to activating the plan to flush the distribution system.”
Staff are now flushing the water system and that is a time-consuming process. Workers have to measure the level of chlorination in City mains by testing it on a hydrant-by-hydrant basis. Once their tests show the presence of chlorine in the water at a particular level they will know that potable water is once again available to residents.
So until the City water system receives a green light from Interior Health you should continue to boil water before drinking.
Crews are hoping to have everything back to normal sometime this afternoon, Thomas said.
Here are four photos from the clean-up operation: