Barriere residents were not impressed the afternoon of May 7, when the colour of the water coming out of their pipes suddenly took on the colour of strong iced tea, and many quickly took to social media to share their displeasure.
By 12 noon on Wednesday, May, 8, the District of Barriere had posted a notice advising residents about the aesthetic quality of the water coming out of the municipal water system.
Here is the District of Barriere advisory notice as posted today:
“NOTICE FROM THE DISTRICT OF BARRIERE WATER QUALITY AESTHETIC ADVISORY UPDATE: This notice is an update regarding the discoloured water that continues to plague parts of our complex looped water distribution system. Yesterday late afternoon, we had a fire call at the end of Bartlett Rd. that burned through a portion of the parkland trail along the river. Barriere Fire Rescue were quickly on scene and successfully put out a fire that could have grown to be a serious threat to the nearby residences. However, as mentioned in the original Advisory, every time water has to be pulled from a hydrant for a fire or a large volume truck has to be refilled, it stirs up the water clarity in the parts of our system in the affected area.
“As stated in the previous advisory, due to the necessary shutdown of our main deep well on Spruce Crescent, we are currently drawing our water from one of the new wells in Bradford Park. This particular well has a much higher level of Manganese than our usual source which causes the water to be slightly discoloured. We have also been advised to tell people to avoid the use of bleach in the water as this will cause a chemical reaction that will intensify the dark colour. Starting today we are slowly introducing the second new well in Bradford which showed a low level of manganese and iron in the original mineral analysis.
“The repairs to the system are approximately half finished as we await the arrival of some delayed specialized valves that are required to complete the pipe work and get Deep Well #2 back on line. This is now anticipated to be the 24th to the 27th of May.
“The District of Barriere advises the public that the water is safe for human consumption and asks for your continued patience with the unfortunate inconvenience this discoloured water is causing all of us. Please also remember that Stage Two Water Restrictions are in effect. They are posted on the front page of the District of Barriere website: www.barriere.ca “AFFECTED AREAS: The whole of the municipal water system.
“DURATION OF THIS ADVISORY: This Water Quality Aesthetic Advisory is effective until the water clears.
“QUESTIONS: If you have any questions concerning this advisory, please contact: District of Barriere at 250-672-9751”
Residents of the community have been more than a little frustrated. The water discolouration in the municipal system has been an ongoing problem since Feb. 8, 2019, when a malfunctioning pressure relief valve resulted in damage to adjacent equipment in a below ground vault. This resulted in having to shut down the main deep well on Spruce Crescent so repairs could be made.
In an interview with Barriere CAO on Apr. 17, 2019, she noted there was at least a six week window to bring in the needed parts and complete the repairs necessary to get the main well back online.
In the meantime the new wells in Bradford Park have taken over for the main well while it was being repaired.
However, since that time, residents on the system have been continuously experiencing off-coloured water with white or iron-coloured flecks. The municipality says the off-coloured water is temporary due to the water running in the opposite direction in the pipes, this results in the flushing out of any mineral buildup that may have accumulated over the years inside the pipes. The water colour becomes worse whenever the fire department fills their water tankers, which is due to the water once again flowing a different way in the pipes.
Hannigan continues to reassure residents that the water is safe to drink the discolouration is temporary, and that the expectation is the main well will be going back on line by the end of this month.
Meanwhile municipal water system users will continue to fume.
“No one is going to drink this no matter what they say,” says one Barriere resident who asked not to be identified, “Who is going to drink it, cook with it, wash dishes or clothes in it, and I am certainly not bathing my kids in it. We are getting charged for this water, the only thing it is good for might be irrigation, and they won’t let us use it for that either. I think we should be recompensed for the water fees until this is rectified.”