Stage 4 restrictions that were in place April 12-22 during a pipe repair have been lifted for the Comox Valley Water System. During that time, water use was restricted to drinking, food prep and personal hygiene in order to maintain sufficient flows for domestic and firefighting needs.
The pipe repair was a complicated process. To isolate a leak in the main transmission pipe underneath the Puntledge River, the system had to rely on a smaller pipe to supply water to most of the system. New valves were installed on the water main to temporarily re-route water in order to send a diver into the 900mm steel pipe to patch the leak by welding from inside the water-filled pipe.
“It’s a risky job, but we had a good, safe work procedure, and the kind of thing that these guys are super experienced with,” said Marc Rutten, general manager of engineering services at the Comox Valley Regional District. “We had some good contractors and good advisors, but still, it’s pretty tricky work.”
The diving company was from Vancouver.
The district thanks residents and businesses for cutting back on water use for the duration of the repair.
“I think the community responded well,” Rutten said. “It has quite a big impact on some businesses, and on residences, but people stepped up and got behind it. There was some initial complaining, but overall I think the community did a great job…We’re super happy to have it put back together, and we’re in good shape for the summer.”
Many local companies were adversely affected by the restrictions, such as car wash businesses. Though the car wash isn’t the primary source of income at the Great Canadian Oil Change, the Courtenay business nevertheless felt the pinch during the restricted period.
“During the spring and summer, it’s definitely a big part of it having it there,” manager William McLaren said of the car wash. “To have it down, it is a big inconvenience, but at the same time it’s not what we rely on.”
Residents and businesses weren’t alone in their conservation efforts. BC Hydro has been in conservation mode the last few months, running the powerhouse at about 20 per cent of capacity.
“That’s just enough water discharged downstream to keep Puntledge River fish habitat covered with water during the salmon emergence and eventual migration into the ocean,” BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson said. “It has also allowed us to store as much of the inflows into the reservoir as possible.”