Record flooding in southern New Brunswick has taken its toll on municipalities in the province and now, one town is being forced to deal with the surging water levels that have overwhelmed and swamped its sewage lagoons and pumping stations.
The town of Rothesay, N.B., is attempting to limit the amount of untreated sewage entering the Kennebecasis River system, worried about the possibility of contamination.
“We had backup generators for all of our lift stations but they’ve been removed because they’re going to be destroyed so the system is simply not working,” said Rothesay Mayor Nancy Grant.
Rothesay is just one community that has had their sewage system affected by the flooding. The province’s Emergency Measures Organization issued a warning to multiple communities on Sunday.
“The floodwater can be heavily contaminated with sewage as a result and people need to be mindful of the health risks, the risks of infections that come with that, as well as the risk of sickness and gastrointestinal illness,” said EMO director Greg MacCallum.
Grant is asking residents who are hooked up to town water to cut back on their usage and the reason is quite simple.
“Water volume going into the system,” explained Grant.
“It would be much appreciated if they could cut back a bit on that because all the volume that’s added is pushing more raw sewage into the river.”
Grant also says people using wells which have been impacted by flooding should not drink the water and people living near the river with water near their property should take precautions for themselves and their pets.
WATCH: Rising floodwaters in New Brunswick continue to raise health and safety concerns
Voluntary evacuation notices were also handed out in several flood zones in the town — but have been met with limited success.
“We’ve already had to perform a couple of rescues and people have gone back.”
Kevin Beaupre is among those who chose not to evacuate. He’s taking advantage of available sandbags but says he can still access his home from dry land.
“Our main floor is well above the water level and we have power so we just have no water and no sewer so it’s just like camping inside your own house,” he said.
The town will be providing bottled water to residents on wells that could be compromised and a request has been made to the province for enough portable toilets to service 300 homes or about 1,000 people.