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Mayor admits city has been on the verge of full evacuation due to water system woes

‘We have come within 45 minutes of losing water in our reservoir’: Mayor Herb pond
Mayor Herb Pond at the annual Filipino Festival last week. At a Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting last week, Pond said there is little else he thinks about other than the city’s water system problem. (Seth Forward/Northern View)

In the seemingly never-ending saga of Prince Rupert’s failing water system, Mayor Herb Pond revealed the town has been extremely close to a full evacuation order due to the city’s pipes.

Pond said in a speech at the Prince Rupert City Hall Chamber Breakfast on Spet 27 that the city’s reservoir was at one point in 2022 45 minutes away from being empty, which would have wreaked havoc on the community.

He also admitted to the Chamber that the city has, in the past, not been fully forthcoming about the extent of the problem.

While the risk of complete failure of the system still looms over the city, Pond said the city’s crews are ensuring relative calm in Prince Rupert.

“Our crews are becoming very adept at working hard and fast to make sure that [the reservoir drying up] doesn’t happen,” he said. “If the reservoir goes dry, there’s a genuine risk that system cavitates (develops cavities or bubbles) and the pipes would actually collapse.”

According to Pond, there have been 22 main breaks so far this year. He said that for comparison, Richmond, with a population about 20 times larger than Prince Rupert’s, sees about four breaks a year.

The extensive stall on federal funding to fix the city’s pipes has meant the city has gone millions of dollars over its annual budget, and have been unable to do long-lasting, impactful work on the water system, according to Pond.

“We are unable to fill in those holes or even replace the sections of pipe that are bad if they occur within the area that we’ve defined as the scope of the project that we applied for federal funding,” he said. “Because if we start that work before the feds have made their decision, we lose the grant.”

Pond said that while there are certainly other pressing issues in the city, the infrastructure issues have been continuously on his mind lately.

He said that while transparency hasn’t been ideal in the past, they have attempted to be as frank as possible with the community since the crisis started last year.

“I think it’s important the community understand what we’re currently going through and what we’re going to be going through in the process of replacing these pipes is going to be incredibly disruptive,” he said. “We got here together we’re going to have to get ourselves out of this together.”

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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