State of emergency declared in Swan River over dwindling water supply

The town of Swan River’s water supply has almost run out and town officials don’t know what the problem is.

Water is not getting from the well to treatment plant, but no one knows why, deputy mayor says

Water is not flowing from the well into the water treatment plant in Swan River, Man. Residents are being asked to conserve water. (istock Getty Images (DO NOT USE))

A state of emergency has been declared in Swan River, Man., as the town's water supply has almost run out and officials don't know what the problem is.

The town's nearly 4,000 residents have been told to cut back their water use after public works staff discovered that water from the well was not getting to the town's treatment plant. 

Officials say the water is currently safe to drink, but the town might have to issue a boil water advisory.

"What we have reached now is the point of critical situation where we are running out of water, and until that problem is resolved, we're asking residents to conserve, if not try to completely stop using water until we can find the problem," said the town's Deputy Mayor Lance Jacobson.

Total loss of water 'imminent'

A notice posted on the town's website says "a total loss of water throughout the town is imminent" due to a major break in its pumping and distribution system. Jacobson said officials are preparing for the water to run out as early as late Sunday and public works crews are updating the local government on the situation every three hours.

The well, which is about one and a half kilometres from the treatment plant, is connected by a 20-centimetre pipe running underground. It's unknown whether the problem is with the well, or somewhere in between,

Jacobson said the town's two main wells "just quit pumping water to the facility," and that officials are hoping to get a third well working and pump water from it overland if necessary.

The town is waiting on outside professionals to come in to figure out what the problem is.

"This is something that we've never encountered," Jacobson said.

In the meantime, Jacobson said the Red Cross has been informed, and surrounding communities have potable water that can be brought in.

The town has asked businesses to order in as much bottled water as possible.

A Manitoba government spokesperson told CBC "several government departments, including Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, are monitoring problems with Swan River's water distribution system."

"While no formal request for help has been made by the town, our government is treating this situation seriously."

Swan River is about 380 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

With files from Rignam Wangkhang