Nova Scotia

Inverness County faces $100M headache with aging water infrastructure

Cape Breton's Inverness County is developing a long-term plan to deal with its water woes, which could stretch into more than $100 million worth of repairs.

County facing water main and well problems that will require expensive fixes over next decade

Aging water infrastructure across Inverness County could cost more than $100 million to repair. (CBC)

Cape Breton's Inverness County is developing a long-term plan to deal with its water woes, which could stretch into more than $100 million worth of repairs.

The most recent problem is in the community of Port Hood, where residents have been told to conserve water since a water main break on June 28. In addition, one of two wells that supply the community has degraded and will have to be replaced.

For now, people have been asked to take shorter showers and refrain from washing their cars, filling pools or watering gardens.

Keith MacDonald, the chief administrative officer for the Municipality of the County of Inverness, said the water reservoir has recovered in the past few days, and there's now enough water to ensure adequate fire protection for the area.

MacDonald said the county is now working on a new well for Port Hood.

"We have a new drill rig company on site and they are trying to complete the well and get it into production," he said.

MacDonald said it could take five weeks to get the well connected to the water system and approved.

Problems in other parts of county

Water has also been a problem in the village of Inverness.

Last summer, two wells supplying the community slowed production, and water had to be trucked in from Mabou, more than 20 kilometres away.

In the summer of 2017, some residents complained the water was undrinkable.

MacDonald said a host of new development projects in the area, such as the Route 19 brewery, are causing a significant increase in demand.

He said two new wells have been added in Inverness, for a total of four. But he said the county is facing a huge bill over the coming years to repair aging water and wastewater infrastructure.

'Daunting task'

He said a recent assessment showed $185 million in water infrastructure assets, with $103 million worth of repairs predicted in the next decade.

"That's a daunting task," said MacDonald. "We'll certainly have to stretch that out and identify the priorities and put a fiscal plan attached to that work." 

He said the county is working on a 10- to 20-year plan to prioritize the work.

With files from Cape Breton's Information Morning

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