St. Stephen's boil-water advisory to remain until end of week at least

اخبار العرب-كندا 24: الأربعاء 22 مارس 2023 08:54 مساءً

Mark Groleau and his family have been keeping Mason jars of boiled water around the house during the advisory. (Submitted by Mark Groleau - image credit)

Mark Groleau and his family have been keeping Mason jars of boiled water around the house during the advisory. (Submitted by Mark Groleau - image credit)

The boil-water advisory in St. Stephen will remain until at least the end of the week after the town administration underestimated the amount of time it would take to get test results on its water supply, according to a statement the town released Wednesday.

"It is with our apologies that we now say that the earliest we may receive the results from the bacterial growth tests will be the end of the week," said Wednesday's statement.

Until that time, the boil water advisory will remain, the statement said.

On Tuesday, Jeff Renaud, the town's chief administrative officer, said the Department of Health would determine Wednesday afternoon if the Town of St. Stephen could lift the boil-water advisory it's been under since March 15.

The town became aware of turbidity issues — meaning a haziness that indicates water is not being disinfected properly — with the water the night of March 15 and located the problem on Monday, after ground above the well caved in.

"So [Tuesday] morning, we were able to put a submersible camera into our main well that services our drinking water system," he said.

"The results of that investigation were as positive as we could have hoped."



The source of the issue turned out to be a small breach in the foundation of the more-than-100-year-old well. To fix it, Renaud expects the town will have to install a steel lining around the inside of the well.

Renaud said the water is returning to normal because the breach was plugged when some ground above the well fell through. He said the damage doesn't pose a threat to water quality.

"[The lining] will be expensive for a community of our size to take on," he said.

Renaud is hopeful the provincial and federal governments will offer financial support to help with the repair bill. The exact cost of the fix won't be determined until a more comprehensive analysis is done by engineers, he said.

Impact on residents 

The mayor of St. Stephen said the situation taught him not to take the utility for granted.

Story continues

"When you don't have good water because of a boil order, and you're literally boiling water, you don't realize how nice it was to have that water flowing," said Allan MacEachern.

Submitted by Allan MacEachern

Submitted by Allan MacEachern

For businesses like the Game Time Sports Bar, the advisory added extra work for staff who had to bring in juices and sodas that would usually be dispensed through a soda gun, which combines syrup and water, according to Terri-Leigh Hooper, the bar's manager.

The Anglophone South School District has provided schools in the town with bottled water for students and staff to drink and use in the kitchen areas, said Jessica Hanlon, the district's director of communications, in an email.

Mark Groleau, a resident of St. Stephen, purchased gallons of filtered water for his family to drink, but has been boiling water for other uses.

Contributed by Mark Groleau

Contributed by Mark Groleau

"We are literally just living with Mason jars of boiled water on every surface — in our bathroom, in our kitchen, on our countertops. And it's kind of brownish, which is really unpleasant," he said.

Groleau added that the colour had returned to normal by Monday.

"I'm not irate about the inconvenience of having to do this. I understand things break down, especially like I said, when you're dealing with smaller infrastructure," he said.

Town's communication criticized

Groleau was, however, frustrated with the way the town communicated the advisory.

He learned about it from someone picking up his kids — after he woke up and drank a full glass of water, unaware of the advisory.

That person heard about it through Facebook. Groleau said the town often uses Facebook to communicate things.

"I'm not saying Facebook is a terrible way [to communicate] or it shouldn't be done," Groleau said. "But there needs to be another primary method of communication, in case of emergency."

Julia Wright/CBC

Julia Wright/CBC

The town has an email alert system that residents can sign up for, but Groleau said the town could do a better job of making its residents aware that it exists.

Renaud said boil-water advisories are generally localized to an area where the town can go door to door informing residents. But with a system-wide issue, it's more challenging. He said the town worked with its media partners to get the messaging out right away.

"Communication can always be improved," Renaud said. "We will do a debrief on this to see what we can do better."

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