By Joel van der Veen
CRAIK — Craik town staff and residents were dealing with water woes of a different kind last week.
A hydrant failure near the corner of Ferguson Street and Seventh Avenue, across from Craik School, forced town staff to turn off the water supply to residents on Craik’s west side for a combined total of 25 hours.
Mayor David Ashdown said he was pleased with the staff’s response given the complexity of the problem: “It just was not a straightforward dig-down-and-replace (job).”
He said he understood the frustration from some residents over the extended water outage on Saturday and the limited notice given, but noted that it was an urgent situation and the town did its best to communicate with residents.
“You have to deal with an emergency as it happens,” he said. “If we didn’t shut it off then, we were going to have people’s basements flooded.”
Ashdown said proper notice was given of a second planned outage on Thursday, when the hydrant was replaced.
He also said the Craik emergency measures organization (EMO) is working on collecting contact information for local residents so that news can be delivered quickly and reliably when an emergency arises.
Part of the improvement plan, currently under development by the town, includes repairs and enhancements to infrastructure.
Once that is in place, Ashdown said, the effects of such incidents can be limited to within a block or two of the problem, rather than inconveniencing the town at large.
The leaky hydrant was reported to town staff the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 17. Water was dripping out and forming a pool in a nearby drainage ditch.
Flushing the hydrant multiple times did not resolve the issue, and an isolation valve failed after staff tried to use it, increasing the water flow markedly.
The town had posted a notice online that the water would be turned off on the west side at midnight, but the turn of events forced staff to shut it off at 10:30 p.m. on Friday instead.
Contractors arrived on Saturday morning to address the issue, but work was complicated by several factors, including the presence of power, phone and gas lines in the vicinity.
Kati Ball, who lives on a farm outside of town with husband Dan Exelby, said they received a call from Coun. Gary Gilbertson asking for their help in bringing water to town.
“They asked us and we said sure, not a problem,” said Ball. “We were more than happy to help out.”
They filled up a 1,000-gallon tank from the RM source and parked it outside the Midlakes Manor, where it was available for most of Saturday. Water was also made available directly from the town water plant via a garden hose.
Town staff determined that the faulty hydrant needed to be replaced. The hydrant was capped on Saturday and water was restored by 7 p.m. that day, ending an outage of roughly 20 hours.
A planned outage was announced for Thursday and water was turned off, again on the west side only, at 10:30 a.m.
Contractors returned that day to install the new hydrant and the process went smoothly. Water service was restored by 3:30 that afternoon.