Running water

Adam Randell
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Pigeon Cove and St. Barbe receives temporary fix

Albert Applin's pipes hadn't produced water for seven days. The 83-year-old Pigeon Cove resident has had to resort in filling buckets with snow, lugging them inside, and melting them on a burner.

The water is flowing through the pipes in Pigeon Cove and St. Barbe again.

After a week without water, because the Local Service District’s shallow pond water supply had frozen up, a temporary fix to get them through until the Spring thaw was set up.

According the LSD Chair Samuel Gibbons, contractors put in pressure reservoir tanks, using pumper trucks to restart the system.

From there, an alternate water source – Ridge Pond – would be accessed with overland pipes to feed the tanks.

On Wednesday night the first water came flowing through the lines.

“It felt pretty good to see the water coming through the taps,” said Gibbons. “After a week without water you couldn’t help but thank God.”

But it was only a test run and the water went shortly after.

“As I left for work at 7 a.m. the next morning the water was coming through the taps again.”

Because Gibbons works outside the immediate area, he couldn’t confirm if everyone had successfully gotten their water back by the Northern Pen’s deadline.

As of Thursday morning, Pigeon Cove resident Albert Applin was still without running water.

The 83-year-old was still relying on melted snow that he had to shovel into buckets, lug inside and melt on the stove. It was a story that repeated itself throughout Pigeon Cove and St. Barbe for the week the water was gone.

“We are in a crisis,” Applin said. “The Red Cross dropped off a case and half of water, but other than that we were on our own.”

While government blamed extreme temperatures freezing everything up, Applin blames the source.

“It’s gone dry,” he said. “And you could see that it was happening. About a month before we lost the water, it was dirty water, scummed over, like the last of the pond was being sucked out.”

The water loss falls on the heels of a new water system coming on stream last year.

Stating that the LSD, based on recommendations from engineers, decided to put its new million-dollar water system back in the old location, Applin says it never should have been.

“There’s a much larger supply of water not too far from the (current supply) and that’s where that new system should have gone,” he said.

The LSD Chair confirmed that the new system was placed based on the engineer’s recommendations.

“This is a brand new system, it’s a beautiful system, there’s nothing wrong with it,” Gibbons said. “We trusted our engineers, they are smart, intelligent people. Where they recommended to put it, we were ok with.”

He said the freeze up of the pond has been a learning curve for the LSD.

“Come spring thaw there should be enough water coming in through our intake, but we’ll have to look at precautionary measures to prevent this from happening again,” Gibbons said. “We’ll also have to look at ways of monitoring ice conditions and water levels in the pond so we can look at conservation methods in the future.”


Bennett weighs in

District MHA Jim Bennett says seven days is just too long to get the LSD’s water back online, stating it shut down the local arena and the business community suffered as a result of lost business.

He got to experience this first hand as he visited the LSD during the water loss.

"The arena's closure has been a big deal for a lot of people because they've just lost the weekend ... since they haven't been able to operate without water," he said, in a Telegram interview.

"The motel had a construction crew there, but they had to send them to another establishment - to a competitor - so that they have a place to stay.”

Bennett said he felt there was a solution lined up, but the provincial government would not move to make it happen.

"The contractor waited all through Thursday, all through Friday and with no call from the department, he sent his guys home," he said. "I telephoned him on Saturday mid-day ... and he was absolutely astounded because he thought, since he didn't hear back from them, that they must have gotten somebody else for a different solution, but there was no solution and they were just completely abandoned."

Organizations: Local Service District, Red Cross

Geographic location: Pigeon Cove

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