The replacement of a one-kilometre section of Erickson water line

The replacement of a one-kilometre section of Erickson water line

Water line replacement underway

Web Lead

  • Jan. 20, 2011 3:00 p.m.

It’s not the complete fix, but another kilometre of the main waterline that feeds Erickson and Creston is now being replaced.

“The next phase will include another six kilometres of pipe and a new reservoir,” Arrow Creek Water Treatment Plant works supervisor Robin Douville said on Tuesday.

The new line is being built along the right-of-way owned by the provincial government for a highway bypass, but will not interfere with future needs to construct the highway, he said. The 24-inch line replaces concrete pipe that has been in place since 1929.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay, which operates the system, estimates that 15 per cent of the total water output of the Arrow Creek Water Treatment Plant has been leaking from the portion of pipeline now being replaced.

“The overall project needs about $7 million to complete,” Douville said, adding that sooner is better when it comes to cost, because bids came in lower than expected for this part of the project.

“Contractors are hungry — they are really going hard at projects,” he said.

Part of the work to prepare for the one-kilometre replacement included engineering work for the rest of the project.

“That means the final, largest portion of the pipeline replacement will be ready to go as soon as the funds are in place,” he said.

While the current project, due for completion on Feb. 14, is being done by a Kelowna firm, RDCK chair and Area A director John Kettle said on Monday that it’s possible that local contractors could win at least some of the work when funding is in place to replace the rest of the line.

“There were bids for this current project from local contractors but the bids weren’t complete — they just need some help in making sure their sealed bids conform to the requirements,” Kettle said. “We are working to make sure the taxpayer gets the best value for the money and that local businesses are on an equal footing with their competition.”

Replacing the 80-year-old concrete pipeline was a priority before the state-of-the-art water treatment facility was constructed, Douville admits. But a political decision by the provincial government moved treatment of water ahead of its delivery system.

In 2007, another two kilometres of the old pipeline was replaced, saving an estimated one million gallons of water a day.

Kettle is hopeful that completion of the system will be boosted by federal and provincial grants, but said a referendum may be needed to borrow the money for a project that is a key part of Creston Valley’s infrastructure. The current portion is being funded by taxpayers after an alternative approval process didn’t raise sufficient taxpayer concern to require a referendum.

Douville said he is optimistic that RDCK policies will encourage successful bids by local contractors.

“The next phase might be split into smaller segments to give locals a better opportunity,” he said.

This pipeline construction, which began on Jan. 15, is expected to take less than a month, with the new section being tied into the old pipeline around Feb. 14.