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Emergency repairs completed on Balfour water system

Balfour remains on boil water advisory following a major transmission line break last week.

Although water treatment was back on line to all residents as of early Thursday, the Regional District of Central Kootenay says Interior Health needs additional data before removing the advisory.

Utility services manager Brian Nickurak explains the line that carries raw lake water to the treatment plant broke late Tuesday evening.

“The break was directly under the Balfour pump house on Kootenay Lake and caused significant damage to the building slab/foundation, the extent of which is yet to be determined,” he says.

Staff responded and worked into the night, but had to stop and await the arrival of special equipment to complete the job.

Work resumed the next morning to cut the foundation wall and re-pipe the main discharge line outside the building and reconnect it with the transmission main.

“As the work was proceeding next to a Telus fibre optic line, special precautions were necessary, slowing progress,” Nickurak says. “In addition, ground water, influenced by high lake levels was slowing progress.”

As the work progressed, residents drew on the 100,000 gallons (378,000 L) in the reservoir. A water truck was also called in to haul water to the reservoir to keep up with the demand, but levels dropped to the point where upper areas of Balfour were without water for several hours.

Repairs were completed around 9 p.m. on Wednesday and flow to the treatment plant and reservoir resumed. All areas of Balfour had full water service by Thursday morning.

Nickarak says they suspect high lake water levels may have softened the ground around the retaining wall under the pumphouse, allowing the break to occur. The full extent of the damage is still being assessed.

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