A towering problem

Rudy Norman
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Leaky valve leads to icy situation

A giant ice formation near Baie Verte has been the subject of fascination for many recently, but Mayor Clar Brown says how it got there was, and still is, a concern for the town.

“It’s affectionately known as the Ice Tower,” said Mayor Brown in an interview with The Nor’wester earlier this week. Some local residents who were in the area at the time discovered the giant formation back in December.

“There’s a 7.3km pipeline that runs from Southern Pond for our water supply,” explained the Mayor. “Since the pond is elevated, our system is all gravity flow.”

Brown says when engineers installed the pipeline, they also installed pressure release valves in a few places. What appears to have happened here is one of the valves burst, causing water to leak out of the line.

“Back in December, you know how much cold weather we had,” said Brown. “So as the water started rising, it just started to freeze, and then it was growing and growing into what it is now.

The Ice Tower is roughly 3.5km from the town’s water station, which is why the mayor says when it was discovered it was already starting to develop, unknown to the town. If he had to guess, he says, it’s over 50 feet high right now. It has stopped growing.

Brown says the town contacted their engineers and had originally figured they could remove it with heavy equipment.

“The engineers are concerned about the weight of it,” he said. “They’re afraid that it could break the line.”

They were also fearful that the ice tower could collapse on the workers involved in trying to chip it away with an excavator.

“They were afraid that if they started to beat it down with an excavator, then it would just come down on top and crush whatever was below,” he said.

Instead, workers decided to stunt the growth of the tower to prevent it from becoming a greater risk.

“They were able to divert the water into a nearby stream,” said Brown. “So now the tower isn’t growing anymore.”

For now, the town is taking the ‘wait and see’ approach, letting nature take its course and wait for the tower to melt.

For now, Brown says it’s becoming a site of fascination for the people of town and the area, who are venturing in to see it. However, he says the town has installed caution signs to warn people of the danger.

“We have a fence and signs up in there, warning of caution that should be taken,” he said. “It’s fine to go in and take pictures, but it’s not a solid structure, and people shouldn’t go near it and shouldn’t try to climb it.”

Geographic location: Southern Pond

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