Water shortage hits N.B. town during busy tourist season

Alma Mayor Andrew Casey says the water issues 'don't give tourists confidence when they visit Alma.'. Suzanne Lapointe / Global News

Tourists in Alma have been directed to use porta-potties outside the village office because water levels are so low there isn’t enough water to flush toilets.

A boil-water order has been in effect since Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told Global News in an emailed statement that the advisory was ordered because “water demand in the village has been exceeding the water supply capabilities.”

“This has potential to create water pressure issues which can be a health risk if not boiled before consuming,” they said.

Fundy Tourism president Phyllis Sutherland said on Tuesday that the region’s tourism industry is taking a major hit due to the water shortage.

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“People tell me that they don’t even start to break even until the first of July, middle of July, and so these few weeks where generally I’d say the county is pretty full, these few weeks are very, very important,” she said.

Tourist Laurie Molton and her family spend most summers vacationing in a home owned by her in-laws in nearby Riverside-Albert. They regularly visit Alma.

“It’s very frustrating…. A few days ago we came to do laundry and the laundromat was closed, the public bathrooms are closed. You have to hunt for your basic needs,” she said in an interview.

Alma mayor Andrew Casey is directly affected since he owns a motel and restaurant in the village.

“It really does create havoc on the business … and it doesn’t give tourists the confidence when they visit Alma,” he told Global News on Tuesday.

He said the village is awaiting further instruction and testing results from the Department of Health before the boil advisory can be lifted.

Casey will be meeting with Albert MLA Mike Holland on Wednesday to discuss the issues with the water shortage.

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A project to improve Alma’s water supply, funded by the municipal, provincial and federal governments, was announced in 2019.

Holland told Global News on Tuesday that work is still ongoing.

“The scope of the project has changed a couple times but the village has been working diligently to find that source and now we continue that work to verify a source and continue to work with three levels of government to do whatever we need to do to find a sustainable source of water,” he said.

Casey said they may have identified a viable source of water, but need funding to ensure it’s safe.

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