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Medicine Hat doubles down on replacing aging infrastructure after Calgary pipe burst

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“That’s the kind of work that people are seeing on 3rd Street and in other areas of downtown. The pipes that are over 100 years old and focused on those pipes generally being in the worst condition,” Plank said.

“So the plan that we have to look at is: where are the areas where we have the worst condition pipes and systematically go through and replace those.”

Merrick Brown, who leads the city’s emergency management division, said the city created a four-step plan to stay ahead of potential issues.

He said that, while it’s unlikely that a burst like the one in Calgary happens in Medicine Hat, floods and water main breaks have forced them to learn and adapt in the past.

“We’re learning now. As we go, we, if, if it has occurred across the province, we take that into account when we do our risk assessment every year,” Brown said.

“When we do what’s known as our hazard risk vulnerability analysis at the end of the year, we will obviously take this into account because if it happened in Calgary, it could happen here. So we take that into account and it now goes into our future planning.”

Brown said that systems are in place to aid Hatters, but said that response for a large area can take time, suggesting everyone prepare a 72 hour kit in case of emergencys.

“That’s why it’s really important that every resident ensures that they are kind of self-sustained for those 72 hours. It’s not even just a matter of loss of water. It could be loss of power. It could be the fact that we just require a shelter in place for 72 hours based on some type of hazard that has occurred exterior to your house,” Brown said.

Plank said that the biggest key to prevention has always been pipe maintenance adding that the city is considering building secondary pipes to run alongside current piping to ease the burden of repairs as minor breaks are inevitable.

“Rather than running our system to failure, which means you wait until the pipes break before you replace them, we try to be more proactive in looking at what do we know about the pipe condition,” Plank said.

“Knowing where the oldest materials are, where have we experienced some breaks. Water main breaks do happen in the system and in any system, whether it’s Calgary, Medicine Hat or any other system, they will happen from time to time.”

More information about how to prepare for an emergency or more details about the city’s emergency response plan can be found on the city website.

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