Kenora residents dealing with citywide boil water advisory
Staff trying to keep up with unprecedented number of watermain breaks
The northwestern Ontario city of Kenora is under a boil water advisory, as city crews try to keep up with an unprecedented number of watermain breaks.
The citywide advisory was issued on Saturday evening, affecting approximately 6,300 households in the city's water and sewer system.
The very cold winter that has frozen many people's pipes in Winnipeg is also causing problems in Kenora, located in the heart of northwestern Ontario's cottage country.
"Frost is part of the problem. Frost is very deep; it's over eight feet," Richard Perchuk, the City of Kenora's operations manager, told CBC News on Tuesday.
The city's 10 staff members are struggling to keep up a rash of watermain breaks in recent days, including two new ones reported on Tuesday alone.
Officials say 60 homes are currently without water and 40 are on a waiting list for pipe thawing.
The city must notify individual homeowners affected by watermain breaks to boil their water until tests confirm that the water is safe.
But officials say there have been so many breaks, it was more efficient to put out a citywide order instead.
Perchuk said it could be days before the city can test the water and determine if the boil water advisory can be lifted.
Local businesses affected
The advisory did not affect the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, which has a massive water boiler on site, but president Taras Manzie said it did create chaos at its Tap Room and Eatery on Saturday evening.
"We got a phone call from Northwestern Health Unit in the middle of dinner service, so that's always a pleasant surprise, right? It's a little hectic," he said.
Manzie said the Tap Room is shelling out thousands of dollars for a special water filter.
"We'll be hitting the streets, trying to sell some more beer and get it paid for, so that we can have it in place," he said.
Over at the World of Water, the water bottling machine is working overtime as orders flood in.
"We'll probably put through today probably 400 or 500 bottles," said Derek Rieu.
"We're hoping, anyway, as long as sales keep coming in the door, they should keep going out."
Water bottles are being used at École Ste. Marguerite Bourgeoys, but principal Carlos Silva said it's been challenging to make sure students understand why they can't drink from the water fountains right now.
"I'm a bit worried because we don't want students to get sick, or staff for that matter," he said.
Perchuk warned that the upcoming spring won't necessarily resolve Kenora's watermain woes.
"We tend to see more breaks come springtime, when the frost is actually causing more ground movement, so we may not be out of the woods here," he said.