We do sympathize with the residents over the continued water issues. With the current drought that we are experiencing the entire province is short on water and public works departments everywhere are all taking preventative steps until watershed levels recover. This is no different than what they are experiencing in the eastern HRM region. The fact is there has been a mandatory water reduction ban implemented by the Town of Windsor, who have requested that the water fill station on Morison be temporarily shut down until their source levels recover. Our primary concern is that our TMP and Wentworth users which share this same water source may completely run to critical levels, as our water fill station has been the single largest consumer on the system (over double the consumption this year as last year for the same time period).
To make water available for our rural customers, the public works crew has worked diligently to find a secondary water source with the infrastructure required to accommodate a fill station as central as possible for our West Hants residents. This has had many challenges, including a major water line break adjacent to the new Hantsport fill station, due to the additional demand that was put on the system when they were flushing the line for testing. These are some of the recent questions we have received with our responses.
Q: Why is it that the water is restricted in Falmouth?
A: We evaluated possible fill locations in Falmouth, however it was determined that the Hantsport system was best suited to handle the additional demand of the water haulers, who have now doubled their consumption over the past two months since the first water advisory was released by the Town of Windsor. The Falmouth watershed is maintaining an adequate supply, but we feel that the extra demand from the haulers may also put this system at risk, and all of our Falmouth residents would be faced with the same issues as the TMP/Wentworth/Windsor now are facing.
Q: I hear that the water is there, but being saved in case Windsor needs it?
A: As a final resort, West Hants could look to supplement the TMP/Wentworth/Windsor supply through a connection from Falmouth across the Lake Pisiquid bridge. This would also result in significant challenges, including acquiring regulatory approvals to do so, possibly putting both TMP/Wentworth/Windsor and Falmouth system residents on a water boil order, and risk putting the French Mill Brook watershed at risk with the additional consumption. It is not something that we want to do, but realistically may need to consider for our TMP/Wentworth customers, and only if the Windsor system should reach a critical level.
Q: Why are the hauler hours reduced from 24/7 to Mon to Fri 8:30 to 4pm?
A: We need to control and monitor the Hantsport system to ensure the additional demand from the water haulers does not put that system at risk. As mentioned the current drought has negatively affected all watersheds throughout the province. It was decided the best way for us to control the additional demand was to have the station opened during regular business hours, and to shut it down at the end of the day by our PW crew. This has allowed our rural West Hants residents to maintain a source of water, but limits the potential impact on our Davison Lakes watershed. Due to the location of the fill station in Hants Border on a rural road, there is an additional safety risk for motorists and pedestrians. We have cleared many of the trees to improve the sight lines and installed temporary signage to try and slow down traffic in the area. By limiting the operation of the fill station to regular business hours, it will ensure that water trucks are not stopping, turning or parking on this rural road at night creating an additional safety concern.
Q: Why has the cost of purchasing water gone up?
A: We are currently compiling all of the additional costs with the relocation of the water fill station. The previous token cost was $7.50 for 600 gallons, and the equipment has now been reprogrammed to disperse 300 gallons. Water withdrawn from the Hantsport system must be paid back to the Hantsport system and is based on the cost of producing potable water at the Hantsport plant. The cost is higher than from the Windsor system. Reduction in the amount of water a hauler can draw under one token is directly due to water consumption restrictions required due to the drought, with extra revenue generated to offset the additional labour, equipment and materials costs to relocate the fill station to Hantsport.
Q: When will the old Hauler system be put back into service?
A: That will depend on two things. The first requirement is that the Windsor system is back into full service. In short we need rain, and lots of it… probably at least 4-5 days of steady rain to bring the Windsor system back to a healthy level.
The second requirement will be to complete repairs or replacement of the hauler building at 76 Morison. The building is in such disrepair and condition that it cannot be safely used. Staff is considering both short and long term options to return service to its former location. A report will be presented to Council as soon as possible.