Nova Scotia

Another dry summer leaves South Shore communities with water woes

Municipalities are once again offering water for those who need it as rural communities on Nova Scotia's South Shore struggle with another dry summer.

'It is a problem. People are looking for a supply of water,' says warden of Municipality of Barrington

Municipalities are offering water for those who need it as rural communities on Nova Scotia's South Shore face another dry summer. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

Municipalities are once again offering water for those who need it as rural communities on Nova Scotia's South Shore struggle with another dry summer.

The Municipality of Barrington has three fire stations helping to deliver non-potable water once a week to people whose wells have dried up. The municipality has also made the hose at its recreation centre available.

Warden Eddie Nickerson said it's been an issue for the past four or five years. He said between 300 and 400 people reported needing help with their wells last summer.

"It is a problem," Nickerson said. "People are looking for a supply of water."

Nickerson said the water, which he has had to use, is not safe for drinking, but can be used to flush toilets and do laundry. 

"Some of the laundromats here, there was a service here that did wash for local residents and that service isn't available right now because of COVID. So that certainly has put a strain on that situation," he said.

New bulk water filling station in Yarmouth

Yarmouth will have a new bulk water filling station in its industrial park this September, which Mayor Pam Mood hopes will help those in nearby communities.

"It cost close to $200,000 but if someone in our rural neighbours needs water desperately, they can certainly tap into that," she said. "It's fast flowing and fills the jugs quickly."

She said that water is potable and will be available as long as the lakes remain at a safe level. Mood said people will have to bring their own containers.

While the town itself has a water utility, Mood said she knows dry wells are a worry for citizens and businesses in rural areas.

"It's a big issue. You have to have food, water and a roof over your head, they're just the basics of life," she said.

'We were certainly hoping to see some rain by now'

Mood said she'd like to see more municipalities in the province adopt a well-drilling program, which provides residents with money to drill wells and lets them pay it back over time.

Nickerson said the Municipality of Barrington is looking at ways to provide potable water for its residents, but, given the COVID-19 financial strains, he's not sure the municipality will get help from the province's Emergency Management Office as they have in previous years.

"We've been trying to work with our provincial government and our federal government to get some funding in place and take some relief off of times like this," he said.

"It's tough because you want to provide your residents with the best services you can."

Susan Mader Zinck, a spokesperson with the province's Emergency Management Office, said in an email on Monday that EMO is ready to help municipalities by providing bottled water if requested, but said they do not have funding programs in place to address the bigger issue right now.

"However, we will be looking at the new COVID-19 stream that has been identified under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Stream as a possible means to funding some of the projects," she wrote.

Nickerson said he's also hopeful that they could be eligible for some federal COVID-19 relief funding, but some wet weather would do in the meantime.

"We were certainly hoping to see some rain by now, but that's not the case."

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