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City replacing aging pipes
NWT Construction holds contract for parts of Kam Lake Road and Knutsen Avenue

Nicole Veerman
Northern News Services
Published Friday, July 15, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Excavators have been digging a trench at the edge of the Fieldhouse parking lot along Kam Lake Road for the past two weeks as the first step in replacing aging water and sewer lines out of sight underground.

NNSL photo/graphic

The edge of the Fieldhouse parking lot is being excavated to make room for NWT Construction to replace aging water and sewer lines as part of the city's corrugated metal pipe replacement program, which started in 1984. - Nicole Veerman/NNSL photo

On a priority basis, the city picks a different part of Yellowknife for upgrades every year as part of the its corrugated metal pipe replacement program.

The corrugated metal sewer lines currently in the ground have been in place since 1977 and are reaching the end of their lifespan, according to Mayor Gord Van Tighem. So, in the coming weeks, they will be replaced with ductile iron piping. Also being replaced are the existing cast iron water mains, "so they will last forever and ever, or at least longer than the other stuff did," said the mayor.

NWT Construction was awarded the approximately $2.2 million contract for the 2011 water and sewer replacement work that will also be taking place on Knutsen Avenue between Knutsen Court and Bromley Drive.

Each year the replacement work is usually completed by mid-September, said Van Tighem, "because then it starts getting cold again or it starts raining and then they can't asphalt."

The city started a long-term program in 1984 to replace its ailing infrastructure. At that time, the city focused on replacing the pipes in the downtown core, according to the 2011 budget. Once that was complete, work branched out to other parts of the city.

Last year, the corrugated metal pipes running along Matonabee Street were replaced, and this year the project will be completed with paving.

"Now we're at the point where we're starting to replace stuff that's only 40 or 50 years old, rather than stuff that is 60 or 70 years old," said Van Tighem. "So we're starting to catch up."

According to the budget, the ductile iron piping should have a lifespan of up to 50 years. Although it notes that there is a risk in assuming the life expectancy of infrastructure because some areas of the city have soil that is susceptible to frost, which can result in lower life expectancies.

"They don't last forever," said Van Tighem.

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