Work on the $33.5 million East Langley water line has fallen behind schedule.
Township engineering and community development manager Ramin Seifi said Monday that “challenges and site conditions encountered in the field” will delay the scheduled completion by a “few weeks … from late 2014 to early 2015.”
One of those challenges was running the line underneath the Salmon River near 56 Avenue and 240 Street, when crews encountered large boulders deep in the ground.
Work was held up for about seven days because the contractor digging the line had to switch drilling methods to punch through the rock, driving a pilot pipe horizontally through the ground rather than using an auger to drill it out.
Because the new method is less precise, the pipe ended up three feet lower than it was supposed to when it emerged on the other side of the fish-bearing stream.
That will require an adjustment to the pipe alignment, but it is not expected to mean more delays.
On Tuesday, when a Times reporter visited the site with a group that included three local residents and a member of the Township engineering staff, trees in the densely-forested valley had been cleared along the pipe route on both sides of the waterway (Two candidates for Township council, Clint Lee and Kevin Mitchell, also attended).
The cleared-out path runs beside the properties of residents Don DeVoretz and David Gilroy, who said the Township should have considered using less disruptive methods that would have preserved the trees.
DeVoretz called the clear-cutting “horrific.”
Gilroy said while the Township has told him saving the trees would have cost considerably more than clear-cutting, replanting the area won’t be cheap, either.
Gloria Stelting, who lives across the river from DeVoretz and Gilroy, on the east side in the North Otter area, is concerned the excavation of the pipeline could hurt the wells in her neighbourhood.
Stelting said in 1976, the installation of a drainage line in the same area to take storm water to the Salmon River accidentally drained the groundwater supply and dried out wells.
Even after the damage was repaired, Stelting said water levels remain “permanently down about two feet.”
Stelting said she and her neighbours have decided against connecting to the new water line because of the cost, estimated at $30,000 or more (payable over several years).
Township engineering technologist Tara Macrae said the area on both sides of the Salmon will be replanted and will look considerably better in about a year.
“When you’re in the midst of construction, it’s not pretty,” Macrae said.
Another issue cited by Macrae and Seifi concerns a section of pipe that turned out to be too thin.
“I understand a section of pipe through the casing [of the line] had to be replaced due to incorrect specifications,” Seifi said.
“The correct water main pipe (as per the design) has been installed.”
There was also a Sept. 13 incident where a subcontractor using a boring machine to push pipe under Michael’s Brook, upstream from the Nicomekl Enhancement Society hatchery, caused a collapse, dumping sediment into the water.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans required restoration of both the collapsed area of Michael’s Brook and everything downstream before salmon started spawning.
The remediation work was done “by, and under the supervision of, qualified professionals that specialize in the various related fields, under the approval of senior government,” Seifi said.
Seifi described the setbacks as “temporary disturbances, that are not uncommon with a construction project of this size, scope and complexity.”
Seifi added the project is still within budget “with no indications that it will not be completed within budget.”
On Wednesday, Township Water Resources and Environment Manager Kevin Larsen said another potential glitch involving a crucial pumping station has been resolved.
There were concerns the Metro Vancouver pump station being built in Maple Ridge, which is required for the operation of the East Langley Water Supply, was behind schedule.
There is now every indication that the Metro Vancouver pump station will be done by June, Larsen said.
That should means there will be no Stage Three watering restrictions in Aldergrove and Gloucester this summer, just the same lawn sprinkling regulations as the rest of Metro Vancouver.
“There are always challenges and bumps along the way, when you take on a complex project of this size and scope,” Larsen said.
The project, the largest ever undertaken by the Township, will bring Metro Vancouver water from Willoughby to Aldergrove through 14 kilometres of pipe.
The area is currently served by seven groundwater wells.