News » Sea to Sky

Infrastructure questions after break in sewage line

Carney's paid $8,000 after leak detected



A break in a major sewer pipeline in Pemberton, not only leaked raw sewage but exposed problems with the quality of the of the pipes installed around 15 years ago to deal with waste from the village.

Russell Mack, Pemberton's public works manager and fire chief, told councillors at the Village of Pemberton Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, March 17, that the break, which occurred two days earlier, resulted in Carney's Waste Systems being called out to intercept the sewage. The intervention cost approximately $8,000.

"We were able to respond fairly quickly and able to contain the sewage," he said. "All in all we had Carney's there for approximately 18 hours... and the line was rectified in six hours."

He added that gravel had been turning up in Pemberton's wastewater treatment plant over the previous year and this breach in the pipe could have been the source, this will be verified.

"The quality of the materials and certainly the bedding that was placed down for this piping was certainly not what you'd expect," Pemberton's chief administration officer Daniel Sailland said.

"We're back to the point of looking at our assets management and areas of risks, a lot of work signed off by Associate (Engineering, which formerly worked with the Village of Pemberton) over the years are at risk, and this is one example. Obviously the piping was sub par, barely meeting requirements, and the base was river rock and not softer bedding. So it comes as no surprise that this is something that happens."

Mack concurred, saying that a rock was found to have caused the damage to the pipe, "trying to turn a round pipe into an egg shape and finally it cracked". When public works cut into the pipe they noted how thin its walls were. Rocks surrounding it were softball sized to basketball sized.

"We thought it would be a lot thicker than it was," Mack said. "The pipe is not very forgivable. You hit it with a hammer and it will shatter."

Pemberton mayor Jordan Sturdy noted that is likely the council will have to review all its files covered by Associated Engineering, including signing off on the safety and quality of this and similar projects. The pipes in question were installed around 1994.

"Our infrastructure going forward may have a lot more problems than you would normally hope. We're always told your infrastructure is going to last 60-70-100 years. We've got to hope for the best," Mack said.

Budget nearing completion

Council held its second 2012 budget discussion in as many weeks.

Staff shaved $340,000 from the earlier proposed budget, balancing the numbers, incorporating a two per cent tax increase and including revenues generated from the 2011 boundary extension.

Some of the wish-list items dropped or cut back included $25,000 for a part-time bylaws officer, the cutting of a computer server reserve to replace the Village's system in the future, and trimming $20,000 from the sewer budget.

Sailland told councillors that for the first time they were trying to account for the best-cost use of staff time, and whether outside consultants should be used in certain situations.

"It is a challenge to double check that the work (staff carries out) stays in-house rather than being contracted out, and if that is feasible (in terms of available staff time and the current workload)," he said. "It's the first time we've taken a real kick at time estimates."

Earlier in the day, the Train Station Park rezoning passed fourth and final reading at the scheduled council meeting and was due to be added to the budget as a revenue generator from estimated rents of $25,000.

A Committee of the Whole meeting for discussion of the budget was called for Tuesday, April 24, and first, second and third readings of the 2012 budget are due to take place on May 1; to better facilitate public input, with the fourth and final reading due to take place at a special council meeting to be called before the deadline of May 14.