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Water Today Title July 7, 2022

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Asvisory of the Day



A State of Local Emergency, declared late last week by Enderby, British Columbia town officials is still in place thanks to some infrastructure failure and poor weather conditions.

A broken waterline from a few weeks ago in conjunction with a massive storm that resulted in far higher than usual water turbidity, left the town struggling to keep pace with normal water demands.

Tate Bengtson, Enderby's Chief Administrative Officer, says that thanks to some "tremendous community support," the town has turned a corner and will be back to normal fairly soon.

The town of around 3000 people, has two water sources, a surface water intake off of the Shuswap River that is adjacent to their water treatment plant, and a ground water well in a rural area about 5km away.

According to Bengtson, about three weeks ago a waterline connecting the two sources, which went underneath the Shuswap River, broke.

"After sending a dive team to do an inspection, it was determined that it's not repairable," explained Bengtson, "So since that time we've been working to establish a temporary line along the side of a bridge."

In the meantime, the town has been running a temporary line overland made from eight inch high-density polyethylene (HDPE) inside of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) casing.

"We were working towards that and all of a sudden last Friday a massive thunderstorm walloped the whole region including Enderby," Bengtson said.

The impact of the storm was hard felt in terms of mountain run off and spring melt pushing the river to its capacity.

Bengtson said that river turbity went from around three to six NTUs to over 300 NTUs during the event, resulting in the town being unable to make their water meet Canadian drinking water guidelines in their plant.

So at that point a Boil Water Advisory (BWA) was placed.

To make matters worse, when the river spiked the town's water treatment plant couldn't get the water through their intake.

"Because we can't rely upon our secondary source because of the bad connection," Bengtson said, "We started to shuttle water in fire trucks from the secondary source."

The shuttling system couldn't keep pace with a normal day's demand, so the town had to declare a state of local emergency with mandatory water conservation rules put in place.

Enderby's volunteer fire department hand-delivered conservation notices house-to-house and that helped gain community buy-in, Bengtson explained.

"People have been very diligent at conserving water," he said, "They've adjusted their habits and this is what has helped to save the day."

A contractor is now on scene installing the temporary line across the bridge.

They are anticipating that it will take around three days to fully roll it out, pressure test and disinfect it.

"After disinfection occurs we would do the tie in," Bengtson said, "And then we'd be able to re-establish a connection between primary and secondary sources and we can ease back on our mandatory conservation advisory."

If all goes according to plan, it'll be around the middle of next week before the system is given the all clear and they can start communicating with the Health Authority to lift the BWA.

This summer they're looking to start putting the finishing touches on their permanent fix, which will involve drilling twin lines along the river bed at a deeper depth.

They're hoping that it will set up their system on a stronger footing than what they had in the first place.

"We always try to find a way to makes sure our system and our community come out more resilient and stronger after an emergency," Bengtson said.

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