Residents in the central Newfoundland community of South Brook are wondering if they'll ever be able to drink their tap water again in the wake of an environmental mess that threatens to overwhelm the town.

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Tim Fifield says South Brook's water problems should have been addressed years ago when a nearby mine was shut down. (CBC )

On Monday, 50 metres of dyke surrounding a tailings pond at the abandoned Gullbridge copper mine collapsed, sending heavy metals like copper and zinc upstream and into a nearby bog.

South Brook runs through the town that bears its name and sits on top of the underground spring used for the local drinking supply.

The town has been told residents will be drinking water out of bottles until after the new year at least.

Resident Tim Fifield is concerned that the situation should have been addressed years ago when the mine was shut down.

He thinks the mine owners should have to pay for the cleanup and for the water that's being supplied to the town.

The province has recently pumped more than a million dollars into cleaning up four old mine sites, including the one near South Brook, which has been closed for more than three decades.

Mayor Paul Wells said while town water tested on Tuesday was clean — there was a suggestion of some irregularities at the upper end of South Pond. 

Wells added that it hasn't been made clear exactly what was meant by irregularities.