Rain and money needed to fix Fortune, Grand Bank water woes

Residents and business owners from Fortune and Grand Bank on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula are being asked to use their water wisely.
Grand Bank and Fortune are worried about water levels, reports Martine Blue 2:12

Residents and business owners from Fortune and Grand Bank on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula are being asked to use their water wisely.

That's because the mostly dry and hot conditions this summer, coupled with an aging dam, have left both town's water reservoirs at worrisome levels.

Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews stands near the area's water supply dam. Water levels are the reservoir are down by as much as 15 feet. (CBC)
"It's fairly critical," said Fortune Mayor Charles Penwell.

"We don't know how much longer we're going to go without rain, or a significant amount of rain, so we're trying to preserve so that we don't have to impose [more] severe restrictions," Penwell said.

Water levels in the Fortune reservoir are said to be about six feet lower than usual.

The backup reservoir in Grand Bank is said to be as much as 15 feet lower than normal.

A cracking, crumbling dam

The concern is not only about the lack of water but the quality of some parts of the area's water system, as it continues to age and crumble.

Children in the area are seen playing on a slip-and-slide despite the water conservation measures put in place in Fortune and Grand Bank. (CBC)
In addition to rain, Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews said the dam for the backup reservoir in his town is in need of major work.

"It was built in the early 1970s and it has reached a point now where the deterioration of the dam [means] we're losing gallons and gallons of water per minute," said Matthews.

"[We're losing] thousands of gallons, and our water supply system is way down here in Grand Bank."

Matthews said the town has asked the Newfoundland Labrador government for financial help but that it could take years to come through.

Connected water supply systems

"We do have an option where we can take Grand Bank off our water supply and they can revert back to their old system," Penwell said. 

"But we're hoping not to have to do that because the water we're providing now is much better quality," he said.

Both mayors said they need a good three days of rain for the reservoirs to get back to a comfortable level.

A town worker is seen just outside the access road to Fortune's water supply. (CBC)

Until then, residents in both towns are being asked to conserve their water usage by not watering their lawns and gardens, not wash their cars and to take short showers only, among other conservation measures.

Environment Canada is forecasting about 20 mm of rain over the next 48 hours as the weather system known as Cristobal transitions to a post tropical storm into Friday, staying to the southeast of the Island.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.