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MEDIA RELEASE - Powell River Water Project is Complete


Haslam Lake water trunk main is now fully operational after a three-month shutdown for replacement of the old concrete water pipe that dates back to the 1960s.

"We are in essence at substantial completion," said Tor Birtig, Director of Infrastructure Services.

While Murphy Pipeline Contractors Inc., the main contractor, is still onsite conducting clean-up, the new pipeline is delivering water from Haslam Lake to Powell River consumers.

The construction project placed a number of demands on Powell River’s water system with the main delivery system being shut down. Birtig said during construction, a smaller bypass water system was installed and was able to meet the community’s water requirements during the water main shutdown from July until the end of October. He said, thankfully, the City has a water reservoir that provided a buffer during peak consumption periods. There were also water restrictions in place to mitigate water demands.

With the bypass system in place and delivering water to the community, Murphy Pipeline Contractors used a process called sliplining to install the new water pipe from Haslam Lake to the reservoir. The existing pipeline, constructed of concrete, is at the end of its service life. Rather than digging up the old pipeline and installing a new one in its place, Murphy opened access points at the lake and the reservoir and pulled a fused high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe through the old pipeline while the bypass was operating.

Tully Kurtz, one of the project managers, said the process was intricate. While the mainline was still carrying water, Murphy placed what they called a parachute into the water stream to pull down a small gauge line, and once they pulled it out at the reservoir, they used it to pull progressively larger lines through the pipeline until they could eventually run the heavy-duty steel cable through the water main that would be used to pull the new HDPE water line.

In order to pull the new HDPE pipe through the existing concrete pipe, Murphy used an enormously powerful winch.

Brett Osualdini, another of the project managers, said the length of the new water line pull was nearly 1,300 metres, which was the longest single pull that has been performed in North America. Birtig said it was also one of the most difficult ones because it is not a straight run from Haslam Lake to the reservoir. "The existing concrete water line has compound curves in it that _____________________________________________________________________________________

Murphy Contracting had to pull the HDPE waterline through, further complicating the procedure," he said.

"Typically, in these sliplining installations, it is a straight line," Birtig said. "We had one of the longest and most difficult. When Murphy commenced the pull, they were at more than 50 per cent of the pulling capacity of the winch, so they started to get a little nervous. They assisted the process by pushing the pipe as well. At one point, they lubricated the line with vegetable oil."

In spite of the intricacies, Murphy was successful in getting the job done with one pull, without too many issues. The new HDPE line actually stretched as it was being pulled and took several days to revert back to its original shape and length.

On the two open ends, Murphy fused the appropriate fittings to make the final connection to the intake building at Haslam Lake, and to the inlet side of the reservoir. The pipe then had to be flushed, pressure tested and chlorinated to disinfect it, prior to becoming the working water supply line. The new pipe was hooked up and fully functioning by the end of October. The bypass has now been dismantled and removed.

The project involved local workers were hired by Murphy Contractors. Local contractors Falcon Electric, Bob Marquis Contracting and Cranberry Construction were used for the project, as were local suppliers whenever possible.

The contract price for the Haslam Lake water main was $3.1 million and the project was completed on budget as well as on schedule.

Kurtz said the sliplining method chosen was far less environmentally less risky than the conventional method of digging up and replacing the existing pipe. "With the wet weather, we would have had all kinds of challenges with the habitat and the impacts of heavy equipment and machinery," he said. "Sliplining was a tremendous undertaking but it eliminated potential risks."

He added that the project was a lot of work for what amounted to less than 24 hours of pulling the HDPE line through the old pipe. "We are looking at close to 20 weeks of effort, with all of the preparation, all of the work, the finishing and the tie-ins, for less than 24 hours of pulling," he said.

Birtig said the project remedies a longstanding concern about the integrity of the old concrete water pipe. "As a result, in the end, we have mitigated a big concern of ours that we’ve had for a number of years," Birtig said. "With the concrete pipe, had there been a seismic event, the results could have been catastrophic. Now, there is a flexible line in place that will last the community 75 to 100 years. We are very fortunate with our source of water. There is great capacity and we are now in a good position for the future in Powell River."

Birtig said the waterworks crew is to be commended for its work during the construction phase, ensuring that the water was supplied seamlessly to Powell River residents. He also said he thanks all of the residents that heeded the Stage Two water restrictions, lessening the consumption and making water delivery possible through the late summer months.

During the bypass period, the City was placed in Stage Two water restrictions, which meant that local gardeners had less watering time and other water uses were curtailed as well. With the new water line in place, the City has reverted to Stage One water restrictions, which is typical _____________________________________________________________________________________

during fall, winter and spring months. For more information on the City’s water restrictions, please refer to Schedule C of Bylaw 2425 by following this link:


For more information, contact:

Tor Birtig, Director of Infrastructure Services

(604) 485-8610

Event date: 
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 3:45pm


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