Heralding the official arrival of spring, City of Calgary crews are fielding hundreds of calls for pooling water and potholes as the spring melt begins.
According to the city’s water services department, there have been upwards of 1,000 311 calls over the last few days with reports of water pooling at several of the city’s 60,000 catch basins across the city.
“Lots of snow, lots of packed snow on the streets as well, which sometimes creates problems with water just getting to the catch basin,” City of Calgary stormwater and wastewater collection manager, Corey Colbran, told Global News.
One of the most notable was a puddle that formed in Marda Loop over the weekend, which was soon dubbed “Marda Lake” by some residents, complete with signs and pool toys.
City crews were able to resolve the issue, according to Colbran.
“For that situation in Marda Loop, it really just required the boiler. There was something frozen just below the catch basin,” Colbran said.
With the number of calls coming in reporting pooling water around catch basins across the city, it is causing city crews to take longer to get to certain calls based on how they’re prioritized.
According to Colbran, reports deemed urgent typically get a response within two hours, while non-urgent calls can take up to five days for a crew to respond.
“Given the weather patterns and the number of calls coming in, we’re probably at about four hours for those urgent calls, and going to be stretched to 30 days for those non-urgent calls,” Colbran said. “We try to prioritize those on an urgency basis and get to those first.”
Reports of pooling water deemed urgent could have safety concerns or the possibility of property damage, while non-urgent reports would be more for pooling water around a catch basin.
Calgarians asked to pitch in to help unclog catch basins
Pooling water has been a concern so far this month for Marie Kirby, whose southeast Calgary sidewalk has been underwater due to the melt.
Kirby, who uses a cane to walk, has been trying to keep the sidewalk clear with the help of a neighbour, but the water continues to pool and turn to ice overnight.
“You could skate down this quite easily, that’s why I put pebbles on top of it,” Kirby told Global News. “It’s very treacherous.”
Kirby said her sidewalk has been a problem since last year when she reported it had a dip in it to 311, and the city deemed the sidewalk unsafe.
At last update, the city said it would take up to seven days for a crew to evaluate Kirby’s sidewalk to determine the next steps or a potential repair.
But with warm temperatures expected to continue the spring melt onto the sidewalk, Kirby said she hopes the fix comes sooner rather than later, concerned a potential injury on the sidewalk could make her liable.
“If somebody fell here and I’d have to pay the liability… that would put me in a bad space.”
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According to Environment Canada, this winter was Calgary’s sixth snowiest in the last 139 years, with a total of 82.6 centimetres of snow so far.
Jesse Wagar, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said it is still early in the snow melt in Calgary, with temperatures still dipping below freezing overnight.
“It provides enough of a barrier or enough of time for that snow and that liquid to seep into the ground and go where it’s supposed to, instead of all just melting all at once,” Wagar said.
City crews are taking advantage of the warm daytime temperatures by filling in potholes across the city after gathering reports from residents to 311, after a quick transition from snow-removal duties.
“This is a time of year that’s very busy for us. We go from clearing snow one night to having a few beautiful days in a row trying to fill potholes,” City of Calgary mobility maintenance manager, Chris Hewitt, told Global News. “We have crews out filling potholes in all our areas today, though we expect we might be clearing snow by Friday.”
Environment Canada says March is typically the snowiest month of the year in Calgary.
“Those conditions may may change,” Wagar said. “But we’re definitely not out of the out of the woods yet.”
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