Eli's job is to find and turn off the valve that stops water from flowing where it shouldn't, and to pave the way for an EPCOR team whose job is to get the main back into service safely.
As he tells it, things can be challenging in the extremes of winter. When water gets colder or temperatures change rapidly, the water mains under the city shift. Some break, sending liquid bubbling up to the frozen streets above.
And, on days like November 7, when a snowstorm covered Edmonton with a 25 cm white blanket, water line breaks can ice over everything. These conditions make it tough for Eli to find the shut off valve, and too easy for others to slip, slide and fall.
"It's important we get out to the job site as quickly as possible to stop the water so we can limit any possible hazards to people and damage to property."
Safety is always top of mind for Eli, who can work up to 12-hour days (or nights) in an environment as cold as -50⁰C with wind chill, and on busy roadways like the Yellowhead Trail. The public plays a role in helping us to do our job, Eli stresses.
"When we're on the roadway, we ask that people slow down if you see our barricades and caution lights because we're working to get our job done as quickly and safely as possible."
Working with water in frigid northern temperatures: How — and why — do we do it? "I like the temperature extremes," Eli explains. "Not too many people can do this job because of the cold weather, but I like the challenge. Helping to make sure people are safe and have access to clean water — that's what's most important."