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Mayor apologizes to Calgarians for ‘slow’ and ‘confusing’ communications about water main break

Mayor Jyoti Gondek apologized to Calgary residents Sunday morning, calling the city’s efforts to communicate information about the ongoing feeder water main break “slow to come,” and “confusing at times.”

'Going forward, we will do a much better job,' says Jyoti Gondek

A female politician stands at a podium during a press conference.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek apologized to Calgary residents Sunday morning, calling the city's efforts to communicate information about the ongoing feeder water main break "slow to come," and "confusing at times."

"Going forward, we will do a much better job of explaining what's happened, the expected timeline to get back to normal, and what we need from you in the way of water conservation," Gondek told reporters at a press conference.

"And that starts now."

Beginning Monday, Gondek said she will be providing an update to Calgarians every morning through a livestream at 8:30. In addition, the city's emergency management team will hold media briefings at 2 p.m. each day to update residents on the progress that's been made.

The daily updates will continue until the water situation returns to normal, the mayor said.

A major feeder water main break near the western edge of the city plunged Calgary's water supply into a critical state Wednesday night.

The Bearspaw south water main, which is 11 kilometres long and as wide as two metres in parts, suffered a break that left hundreds of homes and businesses in the city's northwest without water and forced the closure of several roads and intersections, including 16 Avenue — part of the Trans-Canada Highway — in both directions.

Updating the situation Saturday morning, the city said that crews reached the damaged section of the critical water main on Friday and cleared water, dirt and debris to assess the site of the leak.

Crews then began preparing the feeder main for cutting out the damaged section of pipe.

Gondek explained the process of repairing the feeder main Sunday morning, saying that a section of steel pipe will be fitted into the water main, replacing the damaged concrete section. The new pipe will be both welded and epoxied into place, and the repaired area will be tented to keep the heat in, allowing the new seal to become tight.

Following that, the pipe will be flushed to remove debris and allow crews to determine if the water flowing through the pipe is safe to drink. The mayor said a minimum of five to seven days will be required to complete the process.

While the repair work continues, Calgarians are being asked to keep reducing their water use so as not to overtax the water supply in the neighbourhood reservoirs that would normally be resupplied by the feeder main.

Gondek said water use has been declining since the break.

WATCH | Gondek promises to do better job explaining water problems:

Calgary mayor apologizes for city's communication over water main break

43 minutes ago

Duration 2:06

Going forward, mayor Jyoti Gondek said she will be providing an update to Calgarians every morning through a livestream at 8:30. In addition, the city's emergency management team will hold media briefings at 2 p.m. each day to update residents on the progress that's been made.

On Wednesday, the day of the pipe rupture, she said approximately 650 million litres of water was used by Calgarians. On Thursday, that number dropped to 520 million litres. Friday's number dropped further, down to 484 million litres. And she said preliminary numbers for Saturday show water use had dropped to 440 million litres.

"This needs to continue until further notice. So please don't stop now. Please keep at it," the mayor said.

As part of the plan to improve communications to residents, Gondek said the city will be posting frequently asked questions on its website. She gave examples of several that have already been posted, including questions about how to cut down on personal water use and about the preventative maintenance the city does on its water system.

When asked by a reporter why messaging from the city has seemed to be lacking information and timeliness, particularly compared to the city's handling of communications during the 2013 flood, Gondek said she wasn't sure where the breakdowns occurred, but agreed with the premise of the question.

"During the flood, our communications were much stronger," she said.

"Can I tell you exactly what the breakdown is? No. Can I tell you that it's getting better? Absolutely, and that's started today."

The city will be providing a further update on the water main break this afternoon at 4 p.m. MT.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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