A worker gives a hello as he stands 40-feet down in the pumping station’s wet well in Sunningdale. His duty is to keep an eye on a diver who is underwater removing sediment buildup at the City of Trail’s water intake.

City of Trail removing buildup at water intake

Works crews converged on the fresh-water pumping station to deal with a buildup of sediment in the system's main intake.

Work crews from the City of Trail, Impact Equipment Specialized Hydrovac, and Northern Underwater Systems converged on the city’s fresh-water pumping station in Sunningdale Wednesday to deal with an unanticipated buildup of sediment in the water system’s main intake in the Columbia River.

“We’ve had to go into the wet well and are cleaning the intake structure at the pumping station,” said Chris McIsacc, utilities superintendent for the city. “We’ve got an accumulation of three to four feet of grit in the intake.”

The work involves sending a diver from Northern Underwater Systems into the river to handle the high volume vacuum that draws the heavy grit from the intake structure.

The diver is monitored through a helmet cam and voice communication from the company’s truck on shore where a secondary operator handles communications with the city’s and Impact Equipment’s hydrovac trucks.

The working theory on the cause of the partial blockage is that it is the result of last year’s high-water event in the spring and early summer.

“After the high water last year an operator noticed the bilge pump at the station wasn’t working,” said McIsacc. “We’ve never had to do it before and the intake has been in place since 1994.”

Because the accumulation is believed to have been caused by the unusually high water that caused havoc in numerous areas of the province, this unscheduled maintenance is being partially funded by the Provincial Emergency Program.

As this work is being done on the initial water intake before that water goes through filtration and chlorination systems and into storage, it is not anticipated that residents will notice any difference when they turn on their taps.

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