Grit causes pipe woes in Alberni

Alberni city crews continue repairing a pipe section along lower Third Avenue. But replacement is needed, city engineer Guy Cicon said.

City engineer Guy Cicon displays a portion of pipe that was cut out from beneath Third Avenue at Redford Street. The stripe at the bottom is an area worn away by grit tumbling through the sewer system.

The pipe is patched at Third Avenue and Redford Street but long-term problems remain with the city’s aging infrastructure, city engineer Guy Cicon said.

Traffic slowed to a crawl through the intersection on two weekends as city work crews descended into what looked like a moon crater to repair a broken steel sewer pipe.

Two more breaks have had to be repaired, city engineer Guy Cicon told councillors at their Monday meeting.

“The pipe was patched but it really needs to be replaced now,” Cicon said. “The break is a reminder of the vulnerability we have with aging infrastructure though.”

Cicon showed a large section of force main pipe from the affected line to city councillors and members of the public at the meeting. The piece had a shiny groove worn along the bottom of the interior.

The groove is caused by grit that acts as an abrasive as it flows down the pipe, Cicon explained. The joints along the 220-metre segment are most vulnerable to the pitting, he said.

Crews repaired a similar break across the street last month. There have been four breaks in the last five to six years in the same area, Cicon said.

The breaks are a symptom of a larger problem, namely the city’s aging infrastructure.

The pipe is made of steel and was originally installed between the 1950s and 1970s.

“Everything has a life span and this has reached its lifespan,” Cicon said. “Our infrastructure is aging and needs to be replaced now.”

Replacing the 220-metre length of pipe with modern  piping is no small undertaking, nor is it going to be cheap. Cicon estimates that the project will cost $300,000 to repair.

Cicon is bringing a request to replace the pipe to the city’s five-year financial plan discussion, which got underway Feb. 15. Asking may be easier than getting, though.

“We’ve got more work to do than we have money available,” he said.

Federal grants are likely not available for a project this small, Cicon added.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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