Water intake work going full bore offshore at Widewater

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

You’ve seen the picture; now here’s the story that was supposed to go with it in last week’s Leader. We ran out of space and held it over.

Here’s something you don’t see every day: a barge in three parts being hoisted off a truck by a huge crane and set down in Lesser Slave Lake. In fact hardly anybody did see it, because the location in Widewater was pretty well hidden by forest.

The operation was the opening move in what will end up being the installation of two raw water intake pipes extending several hundred metres into the lake. At the other end they’ll connect to the new pumphouse.

According to Doug Baird, the Town of Slave Lake project manager, the barge will anchor out in the lake. It will serve as the base of operations for whatever underwater work needs to take place in the installation process. This includes setting in place concrete ‘anchors’ every eight metres or so to hold the big pipes down. Also the intake screens need to be attached to the pipes once they’re in place.

But before that got started, a surface-to-bottom ‘curtain’ of sorts had to be set up around the barge site. Then if there were any fish caught on the inside of the enclosure, divers had to fish them out and put them, unharmed, on the other side of the fence.

PCL is the general contractor for all of the above; they’ve got the Weaver Group boring the pipes in and Canada Pump & Power doing the underwater work. Baird says for the first 240 metres or so the intake pipes will run underground, emerging onto the lake bottom at that distance from the pumphouse and continuing on the lake bottom.

In other regional waterline news, the Weaver Group was continuing last week with the final pieces of installation of the line between Widewater and Slave Lake. All the work at both ends was finished, Baird says, and connections of the buried sections was proceeding. One section east of the Widewater Complex to the Nine Mile Point road was being put off until the lake drilling job is done. The cut under the highway also still has to be done.

Baird figures the job in the lake will take about three weeks to complete.

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