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City council examined a 10-year project to replace 90-year old pipes

City council set to replace 90-year old water pipes starting next year
Map of pipes and their ages in Revelstoke. (McElhanney)

City Council examined a 10-year project to replace Revelstoke’s old water pipes in their Aug. 9 meeting.

Under the streets of downtown Revelstoke lie old water pipes of varying ages and materials, including asbestos cement, ductile iron, and cast iron. The latter are the pipes that the council is most concerned with.

By introducing the project now, the pipe maintenance and replacement will be included in the incoming council’s next five-year financial plan.

“This is sort of the last piece of the puzzle as far as the long-term financial plan goes,” said Tania McCabe, Director of Finance for the City of Revelstoke.

Of the 98 kilometers of pipe that run under the streets of Revelstoke, the city estimates that roughly eight per cent of them are past their estimated life expectancy. Within that eight per cent, over seven kilometers of the pipes are cast iron, laid by hand in the 1930s and 40s.

Some of the cast iron pipes were put in the ground as long as 93 years ago, but many of the pipes are between 75 and 80 years-old.

The estimated life of the cast iron pipes is 75 years, so in some cases the pipes are only just past-due.

Barnacle buildup from a pipe from Pearson St. (McElhanney)
Barnacle buildup from a pipe from Pearson St. (McElhanney)

The barnacled six-inch pipe exhumed by McElhanney Ltd. from below Pearson St. is an example of the type of wear that the pipes have endured in their long lifetime. Steve Black, Director of Infrastructure and Planning for the City of Revelstoke, said that the growth within the pipes leads to a 20–25 per cent decrease in flow. Black also expressed his admiration for the fine work that was done many years ago to install the pipes.

Councillor Tim Palmer questioned Black on the prospect of cleaning some of the old pipes rather than replacing them at the council meeting on Aug. 9. Black explained that once the pipes reach the state they’re in now, the cleaning process is not practical as it actually clogs the pipes.

“This is for a core service that we should be doing as a municipality, so I’m supporting the motion,” said Palmer in the meeting.

After giving his support for the project, Palmer also discussed the implications of this project.

“This is another thing that will be passed along to the next council—that will be considered in the 2023 budget,” said Palmer.

McCabe also contributed to the discussion about the impact of the project.

“We have conditional assessments for the roads, the buildings, and the sewer, and so now we finally got the water. This definitely helps support the numbers we’d be putting in the budget,” said McCabe.

The budget for projects like this one is currently $1.1-million per year, but the estimated cost to start replacing the old pipes is $1.5-million per year.

Now that the council has examined the project, the incoming council will have a better idea of how much to budget for.

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Zach Delaney

About the Author: Zach Delaney

I came to the Revelstoke Review from Ottawa, Ontario, where I earned a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University.
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