The boring of a new water supply tunnel under the Fraser River began on February 20 in Metro Vancouver. The $240-million Port Mann Water Supply Tunnel will replace a smaller watermain under the riverbed and will have more than double the water-carrying capacity.

Summer in Metro Vancouver. Credit: Kenny Louie.

The start of drilling has been a long time coming. The project was approved for funding by the Metro Vancouver Board in 2006, and construction on a 60-metre deep vertical shaft on the Surrey side of the river started in 2011. A similar vertical shaft was constructed on the Coquitlam side in 2012.

Once the tunnel has been completely drilled, a welded steel water pipe will be installed inside the tunnel for protection from river scour and earthquakes.  The previous watermain was damaged by the river in 1997, causing temporary water restrictions.

“This investment will ensure the continued and reliable delivery of high-quality drinking water to communities like Surrey, Langley, and Delta,” said Greg Moore, the chair of the Metro Vancouver board. “Infrastructure projects like these not only improve regional services that all communities need, but also create jobs and new business opportunities.”

Boring is expected to wrap up in summer 2014.

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