We're far from out of the woods, but town officials are praising a more positive response to their plea to the community to cut their water consumption.
"Since issuing the state of local emergency, we have seen a great response from our local businesses and residents to support water conservation," said Mayor Jeff Genung during today's press conference. "It's been amazing. Thank you. Your efforts are paying off."
He praised local businesses that have voluntarily paused or even modified operations in their efforts to help the town conserve water.
"We are seeing net gains in capacity finally, and although we are making progress in replenishing our water reservoirs, it is still important to continue to conserve water where you can."
Currently, 12 water trucks from Rocky View County and the City of Calgary are pouring into the community, and nine will continue the water haul through the night. It is helping sustain levels at our water reservoirs.
The strategy to repair the water line and isolate the leak has been adjusted after attempting to do so with existing values proved unsuccessful. Now, new values will be installed to shut off the water, and then repair the line.
"As part of our ongoing work that's taking place to mitigate the water loss and resolve the water leak, crews are currently testing water valves throughout Cochrane to isolate this leak," said Fire Chief Shawn Polley, emergency coordination centre director. "You may see those crews out in the community. They may be in some ways flushing hydrants to see if we've been successful or not."
Even after the leak is repaired, it will take several days to recover reservoir levels, and water conservation efforts will remain in place until that is reached.
The temporary bypass for the wastewater line continues to function and is moving sewer effluent to be moved from the upstream of the break to downstream of the break.
"That is currently not an issue for us, although it is a temporary solution, we still do need to repair that sewer line when we get down there, as well, that the sanitary system is functioning with that temporary fixture in place," said Derricott.
No timelines or information on how the operation is being financed was provided.
"We are in responsible mode and once we have moved past response mode, we will certainly be making sure that that that is all accounted for appropriately," said Derricott, "but now I don't believe is the time to comment on that."
One possible avenue for assistance has been opened by the town declaring a State of Local Emergency.
"One of the tools that is available to us is to request financial assistance from the province," confirmed Mayor Genung. "We haven't done that yet, but if we didn't have a state of local emergency, we couldn't do that."
Alberta Environment officials remain active on the scene and in constant communication with the town.
"They have responsibilities both for the environmental contamination issue that we experienced early in this situation, and they're also responsible for the provision of safe drinking water," confirmed CAO Derricott, "And so they are obviously very interested and watching closely and collaborating with us to ensure the best outcomes for residents of our community."
Town CAO Mike Derricott provided clarification on what the town means by preserving water for basic needs such as drinking cooking, and basic hygiene.
"We also recognize the need to wash, which may include doing an emergency load of laundry and the need to wash our dishes. We want to be careful when we say this as we hope people will maintain, respectfully, those at their absolute most necessary, and that we can continue to preserve water we do recognize that having a quick shower or bath will be important as necessary."
CAO Derrricott says they are aware of reports of people hoarding water, baby formula and such. At this point, the town has not asked any businesses to place limits on any of these commodities.
He says it's somewhat of a natural reaction to this circumstance but assures the community is safe to drink and stockpiling water doesn't appear to be a necessary action.
"We completely understand why folks would feel more comfortable having water on hand, but we ask that they would just be judicious and how they go about that."
Here are some of the other points made in today's press conference, some reported in stories earlier today.
- current closures on Westside Dr. eastbound Gleneagles Dr., and Riverview Dr.
- current water losses to businesses on West Rock Rd. that includes overnight accommodations, restaurants, and the Cochrane GM dealership.
- 16 residential homes on Riverside Place are currently without water. It is due to work being done on the water system, and not a shortage of water.
- Potable water is being delivered to all compacted residents and potable water trailers will be available to provide additional support
- Additional road closures and impact on other communities haven't been ruled out
- working to ensure timely notice is provided to residents and businesses impacted by any closure or water outages.
- no blanket closures have been placed on any businesses in Cochrane
- town has temporarily closed its bulk water station
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