Nfld. & Labrador

Research project to harvest rainwater in Black Tickle

Project leader Maura Hanrahan says the system is cheap and simple, and though not a long term solution, may help the people of Black Tickle.

Research team installing systems in Black Tickle.

One of seven rainwater collection systems, consisting of two saucers and two collectors, in Black Tickle. (Facebook)

 A new research project aims to harvest rainwater for the Labrador community of Black Tickle.

Maura Hanrahan, the primary investigator on the project, says it's an experiment using cheap, simple technology that may solve some of Black Tickle's waters woes.

About 140 people live in Black Tickle. (CBC)

The community of about 140 must transport clean water from a nearby treatment plant.  When that plant was temporarily shut down in 2014, residents were forced to collect water from ponds and drain-off ditches.

It is "physically difficult and onerous" for residents to collect water from the treatment facility, Hanrahan said. Some homes are up to a mile away from the facility and the journey is often made on snowmobiles and ATVs.

Serious health concern

Hanrahan described the collection system as an upside down umbrella that catches water.  There are currently seven systems, with two containers and two saucers in each one. 

Black Tickle is a small island community in southeast Labrador. (Google Maps)

The water collected won't be fit to drink, but will provide 'general use water' that will cut down on the number of trips that residents need to make to the plant, Hanrahan explained.

She said that the current situation in Black Tickle is a serious health concern, and while the rainwater experiment is not a long term solution, it may help.

"I've been working with the community for years on and off, and I've seen a lot of resilience, but on the other hand the United Nations says that access to water is a human right, so why should people have to be so resilient?" she said.

"This is is real community health problem. It is very serious."

Check out Rainwater Harvesting in Black Tickle, Labrador: A Water Security Project for more information.


Mark Squibb is a freelance journalist based in Conception Bay North.

With files from John Gaudi