Alberta town declares local state of emergency after sewage leak into water supply

COCHRANE, ALBERTA — An Alberta community where an accident caused sewage to flow into a river that feeds Calgary's water supply declared a local state of emergency on Tuesday.

The Town of Cochrane, west of Calgary, said on the weekend that a contractor completing work on behalf of the town had "impacted'' its wastewater and water pipelines as it was setting up for drilling operations, resulting in a sewer line break that was sending wastewater in to the Bow River.

The town was still working with the contractor to repair the damaged pipe and to minimize leakage as soon as possible.

Although the water remained safe to drink, an update posted on Cochrane's website Tuesday warned that water reservoirs had reached a "critical state."

The town had already implemented water conservation measures after a leak from a high-pressure water line made it challenging to keep the reservoirs filled.

It now says all Cochrane residents and businesses must adhere to emergency mandatory water conservation to make sure resources are available for things such as emergency fire suppression, if required.

"Our water reservoirs are at critical levels. These levels directly impact our ability to provide water to the community," said Shawn Polley, director of the town's Emergency Co-ordination Centre.

"If water consumption continues at the current levels, we anticipate that some communities may soon be without water."

The town said under the mandatory measures, residents are asked to stop showering, washing dishes and using washing machines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2023.

The Canadian Press