Residents in a west Quebec community say they’re getting frustrated waiting for the provincial government to sign off on a facility to improve the quality of their drinking water.
People from Chelsea, Que., just north of the capital region, held a mock “water tasting” outside the provincial municipal affairs ministry in Gatineau.
“We’re having a wine tasting but with water from Chelsea,” said Meriel Bradford, who was carrying around a tray of her community’s water to offer to passersby.
Protesters said the situation has gotten so bad that some businesses won’t wash their floors or water their plants with it, if they have water at all.
"Our school kids have to bring water to school because there's no water. The teachers in that school have to flush the toilets with buckets of water every time the kids go to the washroom,” said Louise Gauthier-Morelle.
Government said it was an issue in 2007
According to people at the protest, half of Chelsea’s septic systems are failing and polluting the local aquifer, an issue identified by the province’s environment ministry in 2007.
All Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau has to do is give his final approval and a $22-million filtration plant and pumping station will be built, since funding has been secured and contracts awarded, the protesters said.
"The business owners, the municipality and now the residents are all saying please, give us an answer, give us the approval so we can go forward with the construction," said Chelsea Mayor Carol Green.
The Quebec Ministry of Municipal Affairs did not reply to a request for an interview for this story.