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Dried up wells and lack of rainfall spark calls for wider drinking water relief distribution

Click to play video: 'Dried up wells and lack of rainfall spark calls for wider drinking water relief distribution' Dried up wells and lack of rainfall spark calls for wider drinking water relief distribution
Dried up wells and lack of rainfall spark calls for wider drinking water relief distribution – Aug 18, 2020

Hammonds Plains resident Karen Hughes recalls the day her dug well dried up for the first time in 16 years. Her daughter was in the shower when the stream of water started to “spit and sputter,” before it stopped completely.

She paid $180 on July 28 to a private company to refill the well, but for the first time, her family is now conserving what comes out of the taps.

“I do not do laundry in my house right now, I’ve been going to a laundromat,” she told Global News on Tuesday.

“I’ve been getting water from my sister’s house, I’ll go there and get drinking water from their home. We’ve really cut down on flushing our toilet, I wash dishes once a day, I don’t have a dishwasher.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia government to provide drinking water to 324 schools until lead testing complete

According to the Canadian Drought Monitor, parts of Nova Scotia are experiencing “abnormally dry” and “moderate drought” conditions amid low rainfall.

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Starting tonight, the provincial government and Halifax Regional Municipality are providing relief to those experiencing drinking water shortages, with jugs available at fire stations 56 in Black Point, 24 in Musquodoboit Harbour and 48 in Beaver Bank.

“We give out two litres per person, per day in the household, and one litre per pet per day, and we’ll give them a week’s supply,” said Erica Fleck, assistant chief of Emergency Management for the municipality.

“This year is the worst (conditions) that we’ve seen in quite some time. Working with Environment Canada — the numbers of precipitation amounts — we’re down quite low.”

Drinking water jugs await pickup by residents in need at the fire station in Black Point, N.S. on Aug. 18, 2020. Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

READ MORE: Thousands of Nova Scotians at risk of lead exposure from wells

The water will be available every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. until conditions improve, but according to Hughes and others, that’s not widely accessible enough.

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There’s a central fire station in Tantallon, Station 65, where drought relief has been stored previously, and Hughes said she would gladly pick up a few drinking jugs if there were any there this year.

“By the time I drive to Black Point or Musquodoboit it’s not worth me driving there in gas,” she explained.

READ MORE: Maritime farmers say crops threatened by drought

Pamela Lovelace, a Halifax Regional Council candidate for District 13 — Hammonds Plains-St. Margaret’s — said the stations chosen by the HRM and province this year are too far for residents with water shortages in Seabright, Hubley and Hammonds Plains.

But when she asked the HRM to put some relief in Tantallon or Seabright, her request was denied.

“I’ve been receiving phone calls and Facebook messages, people are concerned about dry wells, discolouration, smell or no water at all,” said Lovelace, outside Station 65. “If we don’t get rain, we will have more dry wells.”

Click to play video: 'Halifax Water issues voluntary water conservation advisory due to August’s dry weather' Halifax Water issues voluntary water conservation advisory due to August’s dry weather
Halifax Water issues voluntary water conservation advisory due to August’s dry weather – Aug 23, 2019

READ MORE: In Halifax, more than 100 schools on municipal water systems still haven’t tested for lead

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There is water currently stored at Station 65 in Tantallon, but Fleck at Emergency Management confirmed it’s for hurricane relief, not drought relief. She said the decision on where to put drought relief jugs was made based on the 311 calls received about water shortages, and this year, there weren’t many calls from Tantallon.

“We’re trying, with COVID-19 restrictions, to limit the amount of people in out and the amount of people handling the water, so we have to keep those supplies completely separate,” she told Global News.

Lovelace said she believes there is no dry well relief at Tantallon this year because too few constituents know they can call 311 to log their water shortage with the municipality.

In an Aug. 14 news release about the new relief program, the municipality asked residents on wells who are experiencing a shortage to call 311, in order to map out the need and place adequate supplies there.

 

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