Montreal

With water down to a trickle in Kegaska, Que., residents call emergency meeting

Most residents of the village on Quebec's Lower North Shore have such poor water pressure, they can't shower, do laundry or even flush the toilet. And the water that does come from the taps is not drinkable, they complain.

Work to replace pipes was set to start this summer but hasn't yet begun

The water coming from the taps on June 10 in Kegaska is discoloured and not potable. (Submitted by Cathy Shattler)

Most residents of Kegaska on Quebec's Lower North Shore can get little more than a trickle from their faucets, leaving them unable to shower, do laundry or even flush the toilet. And the water that does come from the taps is not drinkable, they complain.

The water pressure problems are so bad, a local committee is organizing an emergency meeting Wednesday to figure out how to get authorities to act.

"Tempers are high, and frustrations are high," said committee member Cathy Shattler, who has lived in Kegaska, population 140, for almost three decades. 

"It's affecting the whole community, so I'm hoping the whole community shows up to see what we can do," she said.

This is Cathy Shattler's shower, with the taps turned on all the way. 'It's ridiculous for 2019 that you can't shower properly; you can't do your laundry, you can't even flush your toilet,' the Kegaska resident says. (Submitted by Cathy Shattler)

If doing everyday household tasks is next to impossible in the summer, it's even worse in the winter: the poor water pressure causes the pipes to freeze, Shattler said, cutting off residents' water supply completely.

Many people in Kegaska, the easternmost point on Highway 138, keep inflatable pools and garbage cans in their basements filled with water, which they have delivered, Shattler explained.

Shattler said the problem has been recurring for years but is getting worse by the day, and she fears more residences will lose their water this winter.

"It's going to be a state of emergency if we don't get it soon, because like I said, we know that we will lose our water this winter," Shattler said.

Work to replace the old pipes in Kegaska was supposed to start this summer, but as of July 10, no work has yet begun. (Submitted by Cathy Shattler)

No water to fight fires

The nearest community is Natashquan, more than a 40-minute drive away, and in 2016, firefighters had to haul water from there to extinguish a house fire, because first responders in Kegaska didn't have enough water pressure to put the fire out.

Work was to get underway this summer to correct the water pressure, she said, but it hasn't yet begun.

Neither municipal officials nor Ministry of Municipal Affairs officials were available for comment, although the ministry told CBC in February that replacing the community's pipes and upgrading its water treatment system are priorities.

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