Having your water shut off for valve replacements or main repairs is a small inconvenience to most Calgarians; but for some, the water simply cannot be shut off without notice. Not having water could be a matter of life or death.
In 2003, The City wanted to take a closer look at how we deliver water service to critical customers – people who depend heavily on their water supply for a variety of reasons. During this assessment, hemodialysis came up as an issue. People whose kidneys no longer function properly are on hemodialysis, a procedure that acts like the kidney and uses water to flush waste from the blood. When this vital procedure is performed at home, it requires a constant supply of clean water.
A list of all hemodialysis patients in Calgary was created and is now updated monthly by Quality Assurance Administrator Judy Hutchinson. Crews check the list to make sure maintenance or repair work will not interfere with the water supply for these critical customers and if it is, they can provide advanced notice to them.
“Water has a big impact on their lives,” says Chris Huston, Manager Field Services. “By using our hemodialysis lists we make sure water keeps flowing to those who need it most and also that we give adequate time to prepare should the water need to be shut off.”
Valve tags, marked with ‘HEMODIALYSIS CUSTOMER’, are placed on the main valves on the water main that the home of a hemodialysis patient is served from. Field crews instantly know there is a resident on that water main who cannot have the water shut off without notice. Before any work is done on that water line, crews will check the list and talk to the resident to make sure they can prepare before water is turned off.
“This isn’t a regulatory requirement. While most people who are on hemodialysis understand how to deal with a loss of water we go talk to them to make sure they’re ready for a disruption to their service,” says Chris. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Currently, 50 homes in Calgary have the hemodialysis valve.