Flood brings changes to district policies

CAO gives updates to progress made on recommendations

A number of changes recommended by Oak Bay staff after the Nov. 2012 flood have been implemented, says interim CAO Gary Nason.

The flood occurred on Nov. 20, 2012 at the corner of Bowker Avenue and Eastdowne Road when a valve separated from a water main during a routine fire hydrant replacement.

Water flowed from the breach for six hours, flooding the yards and homes of 16 residences.

In December, a report from then CAO Mark Brennan recommended a number of steps to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future. At that time it was promised there would be an update to council on these steps in the spring.

Mayor Nils Jensen said council needed to know what the status is with some of the recommendations and see “how we’re doing generally in terms of lessons learned from this unfortunate event.”

The main problem municipal crews had in turning off the water during the flood was that while most valves are “right turn,”  a few older ones are “left turn” and crews did not realize one of the valves they needed to shut off was a “left turn.”

To prevent this happening again, a system is being put in place where all public works staff will have an iPad with access to a map and information of the entire water network, including the stats on particular valves. All information on valves, including the direction of their shutoff, is currently being updated.

The rules for turning off valves during fire hydrant changes have also been updated so that the water supply on either side of a valve has to be shut off before changing a hydrant, when the valve isn’t physically restrained. Even if it is restrained, crews will check the feeder valves before working to make sure they can be shut off.

Staff and council have received further training on how to release information and manage communications during an emergency such as the flood.

The district is also ordering pamphlets from the Municipal Insurance Association which outline the responsibilities of the municipality in relation to property owners.

“In terms of what the municipality should, can, can’t do … typically there’s a lot of questions in that regard after an incident,” said Nason.

Response departments will carry the pamphlets to hand out. There is no cost to the district for the brochures.

A policy has also been put in place to contact police and fire crews as soon as there is the potential for property damage or public safety concerns. Although the flood started at about 9 a.m., fire crews were not called in until nearly 11:30 a.m. and police were not requested to attend until 1:45 p.m.