Bell: Calgary water crisis nears end, now bring on the investigation

The investigation into the bursting of Calgary’s biggest main water pipe is going to start as soon as possible and be finished by Halloween

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Almost there. Calgary gets ready for the all-clear on getting the water flowing through the pipe and back to normal.

So Mayor Gondek tells us Sunday morning.

But not everything will be normal. There is still the all-important third-party investigation of what went wrong and who did what and Calgary city councillors get that ball rolling Wednesday.

If those yet-to-be-selected individuals going through the story of the busted water pipe and Calgary’s water crisis are given the freedom to go through the whys and wherefores with a fine tooth comb, it should be scary.

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Now we’re told the investigation into the bursting of Calgary’s biggest main water pipe is going to start as soon as possible and be finished by Halloween.

Good thing. Halloween.

If we get the whole truth and nothing but the truth the findings will no doubt fit in with all those ghosts and goblins and skeletons roaming the city’s streets.

Except what this so-called independent panel probing the city’s water pipe fiasco finds won’t be pretend stuff.

It will be very real.

Likely real ugly.

And that’s from just what we know already.

But remember, this is Calgary city hall.

City hall with a mayor and council who are at a record-high unpopularity and city hall higher-ups whose first instinct is to cover their butts or bury us in double-talk.

Do they really want to set themselves up for a bombshell report hitting the streets raking them and/or the mayor over the coals?

Or will this be a “review” because they had to have a “review” after this calamity to pacify citizens?

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On Wednesday, a report from city hall brass goes to a city council committee headed up by Sonya Sharp.

Sharp is a city councillor who recently talked to this scribbler in this space about city hall being chaos and the city’s response to the ruptured main water pipe leaving very much to be desired.

Sharp vowed to fight to get to the bottom of what happened and to make sure nothing is swept under the carpet.

The report from city hall higher-ups talks about how the panel probing the water pipe fiasco will be set up.

The city hall brass want the independent panel to report to the city hall brass.

The city hall brass recommend the report will be delivered to city hall brass by Halloween and then go to city council in November.

Let’s hope the report is not a catastrophic failure.

After all, from the beginning we didn’t get the straight goods.

We were told there was a catastrophic failure. The pipe burst. Just like that.

Were there leaks in the pipe, and remember this is the main water feeder pipe for the city?

We were told of no leaks.

So were there inspections?

We were led to believe the line was looked at recently and some kind of maintenance was done.

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Then the city said they didn’t have information available on any inspections.

Then 24 hours later they did have info. Acoustic monitoring had been done. Modelling had been done. They found no problem.

How did they explain nothing was picked up?

Mayor Jyoti Gondek stepped in. End of questioning.

But there was a problem. A big problem. No inspection had been done in years.

Damaged water main pipe
A section of the damaged water main pipe rests on 16th Avenue after it was removed at the repair site in Montgomery on Monday, June 10, 2024. Gavin Young/Postmedia

Then the life span of the pipe. Deep thinkers suggested the pipe’s life span was in the neighbourhood of 50 years, leading to the question why there wasn’t a checkup on a pipe 49 years old.

The city said the pipe had a 100-year life span.

Then there was city council being told about the city’s leaky pipes earlier in the year and some councillors saying in quiet tones they were told not to worry.

Not to worry. No leaks. Then an unexplained catastrophic failure.

You know the rest of the story.

When the biggest water pipe in the city was finally looked at the city announced late on a Friday how five hot spots on the pipe needed to be fixed.

A state of local emergency was declared and people from the private sector who know how to take care of business started taking care of business.

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We were told it would be three to five weeks before the water was up and running.

With all this, let’s not even talk about Gondek blaming the provincial government for what happened when the city swims in money and they received money from the province and the water system is supposed to pay its own way and besides, according to the city, there was no problem anyway.

All so confusing.

Bottom line, this investigation must leave no stone unturned.

Maybe a report out of Blue Sky City can be something more than a P.R. job.

After all, the big question remains.

Do they really want accountability?

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