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Briefly: October 11, 2013

Water main replaced City of Powell River council approved spending up to $170,000 to replace a 200-metre section of water main on Jordan Street recently.

Water main replaced

City of Powell River council approved spending up to $170,000 to replace a 200-metre section of water main on Jordan Street recently.

A section near the Fernwood Avenue intersection has had three breaks since 2006, according to a staff report. The most recent break, on July 5, caused substantial road damage and minor private property damage. The cost to repair the road alone will be about $25,000 and staff recommended replacing the water main before road repairs are made.

The water main on Jordan is a 100-millimetre (four-inch) asbestos cement pipe. Of the 144 kilometres of water main within the city, 14 kilometres, or about 10 per cent of the system, is that type of pipe, which was installed in the 1950s and 1960s and is the most prone to breakage.

Councillor Jim Palm said he was on Jordan after the break and was “quite shocked” at what he saw, including the patching and uneven road. “It was shortly after that that I was alerted that we had a water main break and the plan for repair,” he said. “I’m sure the citizens living along Jordan will be pleased with a new water line and service on their road.”

Frank D’Angio, manager of engineering services, said the break gave staff some insight into asset management plans. “We knew four-inch mains are susceptible to having breakage,” he said. “In our asset management plan, we have identified that all four-inch in the next 10 years are replaced.”

The Jordan main had been listed midway in the plan for replacement, but staff moved it up to the top, D’Angio said. “The pipe that we removed did have some deterioration,” he said. “It was soft and that is pretty typical for our four-inch line.”

Mac Fraser, chief administrative officer, said the breakage did not create a health risk to residents. “Asbestos cement is an integrated product,” he said. “Asbestos is actually a filler or a fibre within the cement, so there’s no risk of an accidental spreading of the asbestos.”

The risk moment is at the time of cutting, when there is a chance that asbestos can become airborne, Fraser explained. “But even then, because it’s embedded in cement, that risk is extremely low,” he said. “Our crews take care, but there’s no concern that a broken pipe would allow asbestos into the water.”

CUPE support

School District 47 support staff have reached a local agreement, one of the first in the province.

Powell River and Langley concluded their local bargaining and reached settlements late last week.

Daphne Ross, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 476, said she wouldn’t be able to comment on the agreement until members of the local vote on it at their general meeting on Wednesday, October 16.

The provincial framework—which was agreed on September 18—and the local bargaining agreements will be combined and local members will vote to ratify the whole package, said Ross.

The tentative provincial framework agreement included an end rate 3.5 per cent wage increase over two years. The agreement provides a one per cent increase retroactive to July 1, 2013, two per cent on February 1, 2014, and 0.5 per cent on May 1, 2014.

CUPE issued a release this week stating it hopes to work with school boards to ensure services for all BC students are not adversely affected.

Colin Pawson, chair of CUPE K-12 Presidents’ Council, said the union stands together with trustees in calling on the provincial government to invest in public education.