Managing water loss in Kimberley

About 12 km of Kimberley’s water pipes are 59 to 74 years old; cost to replace $500,000 annually for 15 years

Last week, Kimberley City Council received a report, prepared by Kerr Wood Leidal on a Water Loss Management Plan. The report outlines where Kimberley’s water losses are occurring, just how much water is lost through leaks and breakages annually and costs to implement a Management Plan.

Funding for the plan was available through the Columbia Basin Trust and Mayor Ron McRae says Kimberley opted to take part in it.

“It gives us some really, really important information,” McRae said. “And it also backs up what we already knew. It will help us significantly with our plans for infrastructure renewal.”

Kimberley is not alone in terms of aging infrastructure in the ground. Most Canadian cities face the same problems. However, Kimberley is nearly double the national, and international, average in terms of leakage. The report converts actual leakage to an infrastructure leakage index. Kimberley’s is 9.6, roughly double the average. The report recommends that Kimberley should aim to reduce that average to an index of 6. That reduction would save $140,000 per year in costs.

Kimberley’s average pipe age is 39 years, which is close to the national and international average. However, Kimberley has some older cast iron and galvanized iron pipes, aged 59 and 74 years respectively. These pipes have three to four times as many breaks as the average. The Lois Creek and Downtown areas contain roughly 70 per cent of the system’s leakage, equating to 60 per cent of all main break repairs completed annually.

The report says that if debt financed, replacing all 12 km  (nearly 10 per cent) of Kimberley’s water mains that are in the worst condition is estimated to require approximately $500,000 annually for 15 years.

“We don’t have the resources to do that,” McRae said. “But the report does give us a really good planning document. It gives us an opportunity to go through the report with the public.”

It’s important to understand, McRae says, that this a common problem with many municipalities, and that this document will help staff decide which pipes to fix first.