Cause of downtown Kamloops sewage main break likely to remain unknown

City of Kamloops crews work to repair a major sewer main break on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016 at near the intersection of Lorne Street and 10 Avenue.

KAMLOOPS - The City of Kamloops is investigating what caused Monday's sewer main break, but the cause may remain a mystery.

It took city crews over 13 hours on Monday, Dec. 12, to identify, dig up and repair a broken 20 foot section of 20 centimetre sewer pipe at Lorne Street and 10 Avenue.

Public works director Jen Fretz says the sewer pipe needed immediate replacement, and while the cause is being investigated, she admits they "likely will never know what the reason was."

Fretz says the pipe was too deep for the cold temperatures to be a factor, and the PVC pipe was relatively new, installed in the 1990s with an expected life span of 20 plus years. 

Sewer line breaks do happen from time to time, she says, but the big issue with this week's incident was the size of the pipe.

“The difference with this one is that it was a very large force main so there was a lot of sewage coming through we needed to reroute in order to get the fix done,” Fretz says. The city started with eight vacuum trucks, but moved up to 11 to get the job done.

“Sewer line breaks happen like just like water line breaks happen. It’s just part of owning a system,” Fretz says. “To say they happen all the time is not fair; to say they happen on a regular basis would be fair.”

Typically they’re much smaller pipes, though, and don't require the closing of roads or the public's assitance in controlling water usage.

Fretz says there’s always a chance another pipe can break.

“We’re not expecting it, but anything is possible with pipes under the ground,” she says. “We have so many kilometres of line in the ground, breaks are bound to happen.”

As some of the waste made its way to the river, the Ministry of Environment was made aware of the situation.


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