By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Feb. 23, 2013
The water mains below us are old and rusty, and they are leaking thousands of litres in the ground.
There were five water main breaks last year; 9 water main breaks in 2011, and one so far this year.
Just one major water main break last year in Valleycliffe cost the tax payers $35,000.
The good news is your money isn’t just going into the drain. Some of it’s going to fix the leakages in the system.
Almost $1.5 million is invested annually into the water main replacement program, while $25,000 is reserved for leak detection.
In 2012, water mains were replaced on Skyline Dr and Judd Rd, and this year, the district plans to replace six kilometres of pipe.
This work is anchored by a water loss management study presented to the council in 2011.
The KWL study found water mains leaking throughout the district and suggested plan to stanch the leakage.
There is 125 kilometres of water mains in Squamish, although it’s hard to quantify how much water is leaking.
The leak detection program started because the district realised Squamish would need more water as the community grows.
“It was about how we can reduce the consumption, as opposed to finding a new water source,” said district engineer Jenni Chancey.
In an interview with the Reporter, Chancey and district’s operations manager, Bob Smith, gave a glimpse into the steps the district is taking to prevent water leaks.
After the KWL report, the district installed five meters in different locations to gather information on water flows.
Squamish has a per capita consumption of 630 litres every day, but this bizarrely high number is not due to actual water consumption, but because of leakage.
The average in Canada is 330 litres.
But a meter is only one part of the puzzle: It gives a sense of how much water is leaving one particular source.
Next is the actual leak detection done by Leak Correlator, an instrument that involves acoustic monitoring.
The device sends a sound wave through the pipe and detects the sound of a leak.
Once an area is pinpointed, district crews go in and fix the leak.
Pipes that are too old are considered to be replaced. Water mains were installed in the 1960s, and made with asbestos, a material prone to erosion.
The new PVAC pipes being installed are expected to last for 80 years.
“We have a significant pipe that has reached its life span, and over half of it will reach its life span in the next five to 15 years,” he said.