Aging city sewer main in uptown Port Alberni will cost $1.89M to fix

Argyle Street sewer main failed twice in 2021, prompting replacement talks


Special to the AV News

An aging city sewer main that failed twice last year will be replaced at a cost of $1.89 million.

Council authorized an amendment March 14 to the city’s five-year financial plan, reallocating the funds toward replacement of the 50-year-old Argyle sewer force-main.

The main burst last summer and the city responded by installing a bypass. When the second failure occurred in December, the city was able to respond more promptly by diverting the flow, preventing a more serious harbour spill and greater costs, said Rob Dickinson, director of engineering and public works.

“It’s a good news story in that we learned from our mistake in the summer and were able to react quicker and to better engage the communities as well,” Dickinson said.

A consultant was hired after the summer break and identified a means of addressing the problem.

Existing steel mains were installed by barge and dredge, which is no longer permitted in the estuary. Instead, a hole will be drilled between two excavations on either side of the river, enabling the new pipe to be pushed under the river bottom, reducing environmental impacts on the river.

Mayor Sharie Minions commended staff for an effective response to the December failure, noting First Nations were promptly notified.

“We have come a long way to be able to have this flow of information and really be aware of what’s going on,” Minions said.

Council gave early approval to a $400,000 portion of the funds to expedite ordering of materials. That should have the supplies delivered in two to three months and avoid wait times of six to 12 months. The work will be tendered in about two months.

“The sooner we order it the better,” Dickinson said.

The city has five sewer mains under the river.

infrastructureMunicipal GovernmentPort Alberni

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