"Urgent" Water Main Replacement Costs Pembroke More Than Expected

CouncilSept9

Pembroke will spend more than expected to fix what city council calls an "urgent" water main issue.

Council held a special meeting on Monday afternoon to approve a $2.2 million dollar project to build a new water main connecting the east and west ends of the city, below the Mary Street bridge.

Initially, the project was only expected to cost around $1.3 million but quotes for the work came in much higher than expected.

So, Council decided to pre-committ over $900,000 dollars from next year's budget to cover the higher than expected cost.

Some council members noted that making a decision about a future year's budget it's not a good habit to get into, but agreed that the urgency of the work required an excpetion in this case.

Operations Manager Brian Lewis says the risk of the current water main failing would mean trouble for the water supply in the city's east end.

"We're concerned that there is a risk that the existing water main underneath the river is going to fail, and if that were to happen, without this new one, we'd have some fears that we wouldn't be able to supply enough water to the east end", Lewis told reporters after the Council meeting.

"We'd have an issue with pressures, we'd have some issues with fire fighting in that end of the city, and being able to supply the required needs for fire fighting", Lewis added.

"As well, the water tower is in the east end.  We would not be able to provide enough water to fill the tank, fill the tower, and the tower is what regulates pressure in the east end", Lewis said.

The work will be done in two phases:  one phase this fall and the second phase in the spring.

Lewis explained the work that is required in detail and where people can expect to see construction activity for the new water main:

"It will start at Moffatt Street, and run in the east bound land (of Mary Street), up to the Mary Street bridge, and it will cross on the south side of the Mary Street bridge. It basically gets hung underneath the sidewalk.  It then goes underground again, and just after it crosses the Mackay Street intersection, it will get connected to the existing water main.  That's stage one".

"Stage two goes from the Mackay Street intersection, along Alfred, until it gets to William, turn on William Street down to Herbert, and connect to the existing trunk main on Herbert".

Lewis explained that there is another water main constructed similarly, and at a similar time in history as the Mary Street bridge water main, and it has failed, so the risk of failure with this particular main is very real.

There are currently five water mains, all varying in size, which carry purified water from the City's west end water filtration plant, across the Muskrat River into to the east end.  However, the 16-inch main that is to be replaced is one of the larger ones, effectively acting as one of the biggest "arteries" for water between the two ends of the city.