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Pipe project ditched after mixup, alternate proposed

Posted on January 25, 2024 by Taber Times

By Cal Braid
Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

In the final council meeting of 2023, members put a stop to one pipeline project due to a mapping mixup, but then approved an alternative. Council agreed to rescind Resolution 355/2023 and then approved an amendment to a cast iron and sanitary replacement project that will go forward at another location.

Chris Eagan, director of planning, engineering and operations explained, “In the proposed 2024 capital budget, a project existed to replace two blocks of cast-iron water pipe and also sanitary pipe in the south end of town. When we received approval to proceed with that project, the first thing we did was used the vac truck and dug some holes, trying to verify location and exact sizes. The original project was configured using the ‘as-built’ information that we had on hand–and it turns out that it wasn’t correct. Some time in the the last 15 years, one of the two proposed blocks had the upgrade work take place, so as a consequence, because the approval from council is specific to 45 Ave, we’re proposing to take that project and relocate it to two similar blocks on 41 Ave, which has the same issues and would come up in rotation.”

Eagan said the idea is to push the single block of 45 Avenue that remains unfinished into a future year’s capital budget. “Mr. Orwa (Town DCS & CFO) can explain the specifics of the finances around both the approval and the long-term borrowing requirements which would be the same for the new proposed location. To remain similar and to accomplish the same volume of work, we’re proposing this administrative change and location change.”

Coun. Firth asked for clarification of the timelines and whether all the projects were just being moved up a year. Egan explained, “We had two blocks approved and we want to do two blocks proposed at a different location. The condition of the lines were well past replacement timelines in those areas south of the highway. So, we would propose to continue with the same volume of work and just shift the location.”

Firth queried, “So the ones proposed for the future years will stay as is unless something changes?”

“Yes. Every year we revisit the theoretical model for proposed upgrades and we incorporate issues like the calls that we’ve received over the year and whether we’ve received any failures or problems with water quality, because in this case we’re talking about potable water delivery system and any issues with the sanitary system. We also will be upgrading the roads and doing any sidewalk work,” Eagan explained.

He said the work is focused on the two sets of pipes that are well past their life expectancy; pipes that will be replaced by PVC pipes which have a 100-year life expectancy. He expects the cost to be about the same and within the contingency tolerances that were laid out in the original project plans.

Coun. Bekkering asked, “Why wouldn’t somebody have checked the mapping?”

Eagan replied, “The ‘as-built’ drawings, which are maps, contain information that the ductile iron pipe was still in the ground on 45 Ave, so it depends on the accuracy of administration in years gone by, as well as drawings from the contractor that makes it into our regular drawing sets that we have. Generally, they’re pretty accurate, but occasionally you’ll find that these types of things slip through, where work was done but our information base was not upgraded.”

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