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Cochrane contains sewage leaking into Bow River, works to replenish reservoirs

The Town of Cochrane says it has stopped a sewage leak that had been seeping into the Bow River since Saturday evening.

A contractor was working for the town on Saturday when the sewage and treated water lines were ruptured, officials say.

“There was both a sewer and water line break. So the effluent that was flowing into the river was a mix of sewage as well as treated water,” said town CAO Mike Derricott.

Though just how much sewage flowed down the banks and into the river has not yet been calculated, Derricott says it was a “significant” amount.

Cochrane’s water supply is disrupted and water restrictions have been enacted, but the town’s drinking water supply is still safe.

Officials from Calgary and Rocky View County, which are both downstream of the leak, also say the water supplies for those communities haven’t been impacted, though water quality monitoring has been increased.

“The water treatment plants are designed to treat and disinfect contaminants like this. In this situation, we did not see contaminants entering our intakes,” said Mark Crowdis with the City of Calgary.

“So, based on river flow dilution, (the leak) has not been a factor,” he said, again affirming the city’s drinking water supply is safe.

In Cochrane, several hotels and a car dealership near where the leak happened have restricted water supply and everyone in town is urged to conserve water. The pathways and parks near the river where the work is happening are also closed for now.

The town says its water reservoir levels are “critically” low.

“We are currently engaging in a major water hauling operation to try and stabilize water reservoirs and maintain their levels,” said Shawn Polley, the town’s deputy director of emergency management.

There’s no timeline for how long the remediation around the leak area could take, though the town says water restrictions will likely last for days. 

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