Rupture disrupts water supply to CHEO

UPDATE: On June 18 at 10:15 p.m., the Code Grey issued for a water main break outside the hospital was lifted, and clinical care resumed normal operations, according to a CHEO spokesperson.

CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa, said its water supply and air conditioning were disrupted after a water main was severed during construction near the hospital's front entrance early Tuesday afternoon.

CHEO issued a "code grey" at 12:30 p.m. Those are initiated "following the loss of a critical system," according to a standard alert system.

Ottawa Fire Services were on site providing assistance and supplying bottled water, according to a spokesperson for the city.

Tammy DeGiovanni is CHEO's senior vice president of clinical services and chief nurse. She said she didn't realize before today that the air conditioning in the hospital was dependent on water.
Tammy DeGiovanni is CHEO's senior vice-president of clinical services and chief nurse. She said air conditioning has now been restored to the entire hospital. (Stu Mills/CBC)

In a news release issued later in the afternoon, the hospital confirmed its access to water for clinical care, cooling, drinking water and restroom facilities had been disrupted.

According to Tammy DeGiovanni, CHEO's senior vice-president of clinical services and chief nurse, air conditioning has since been restored to the entire hospital.

DeGiovanni said the hospital enacted a predetermined water conservation plan that prompted CHEO to send non-essential staff home, and cancel elective surgeries and clinical visits.

Videos posted online shortly after noon show water gushing from a pipe next to an excavator.

Photos taken around 3 p.m. appeared to show water was no longer flowing from the severed pipe, and photos taken around 4 p.m. showed repairs underway.

The construction was part of a $370-million project to build an integrated treatment centre and parking garage. The water main was struck while construction crews dug to build the parking garage.

Construction workers at CHEO work on the area where the water main was broken.
Workers repair the severed water main on Tuesday afternoon. (Stu Mills/CBC)

EllisDon is the construction contractor at the scene, while the firm Aquatech confirmed they'd been called in to help with the cleanup.

DeGiovanni said the public should assume the hospital is otherwise operating normally, and CHEO will directly contact any families whose appointments will be affected.

The hospital said it expects work underway to repair the water main will be finished tonight.