Cochrane lifts local state of emergency as pipeline repairs continue

'We’re not out of the weeds yet,' said Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung in a news conference on Thursday. (Julie Debeljak/CBC - image credit)
'We’re not out of the weeds yet,' said Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung in a news conference on Thursday. (Julie Debeljak/CBC - image credit)

The Town of Cochrane has officially lifted its state of local emergency in response to a major pipeline break on the weekend that left its reservoirs at critically low levels.

Mike Derricott, the town's chief administrative officer, also confirmed the cause of the pipeline break: a guide for a directional drill was to blame for damaging the wastewater line.

Officials said the town was continuing to work with the contractor to repair the damage as quickly as possible.

During a news conference on Thursday, Cochrane officials said two water valves had been successfully installed and water levels had improved, ensuring enough water for fire suppression.

Mayor Jeff Genung said this was a "critical milestone" in the relief and repair efforts.

Water was restored to Cochrane's hotels and a car dealership late Wednesday, officials said. Around 6 a.m. Thursday, the town stopped hauling in water from other communities to its reservoirs.

The mayor addressed concerns about Cochrane's growth being responsible for the situation.

"I've heard from many people that we're growing too fast or this is an outcome of extreme growth," he said. "It's not."

"We could have had a million reservoirs around our community. This situation would have had the same outcome."

Emergency aftermath

Shawn Polley, deputy director of emergency management for the town, said the emergency response teams have "turned a corner."

Officials said they do not anticipate any widespread water shut-offs for Cochrane's various neighbourhoods, emphasizing that the water remains safe to drink and has been throughout the state of local emergency.

"It's been about quantity of water, not about quality," said Derricott.

"It will still be a number of days until we are fully back to normal operations."

The town has activated an incident call centre for those with questions about the break and its aftermath.

An active bypass is still in place.

"We're not out of the weeds yet. We're still in the process of fixing this situation," said Genung.

Residents can still expect that the Level 3 water restrictions implemented Saturday will be in effect until the repairs are fully complete.