Nova Scotia

Southern Nova Scotia still thirsty after last week's rain

Communities in southern Nova Scotia look for ways to prepare for future droughts as they try and recover from this year's water shortage.

'We've been talking about how it is that we can help people get better sources of water in the long term'

A volunteer firefighter in Port Medway, N.S., checks water levels in a local well. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Even after rain pounded Nova Scotia last week and flooded Cape Breton, southern parts of the province remain parched and hundreds of wells are still dry, according to municipal officials in Argyle and Barrington. 

In and around Barrington there are about 150 wells that are still dry, according to Rob Frost, the chief administrative officer for the Municipality of the District of Barrington. At the height of this summer's drought he said about 300 wells were dry. 

The CAO for the Municipality of the District of Argyle, Alain Muise, estimates roughly 167 wells in his area are still dry. About 500 wells were dry just a couple of months ago. 

"It's a little bit hard to predict," Frost told Information Morning. "There are some wells that seem to come back very quickly and other wells the rain doesn't seem to have helped them at all."

Well recovery hard to gauge

Brown is the prominent colour throughout much of the South Shore of Nova Scotia after the area was baked by dry weather this summer. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

Wells in large swaths of southern Nova Scotia dried up this summer as the area received a fraction of the rain it normally does.

Many people are still getting drinking water from search and rescue organizations and taking showers at schools. People are also bringing home large plastic boxes filled with water to allow them to flush their toilets. Normally those boxes are used to transport fish.  

Argyle was short 200 millimetres of rain this summer, said Muise. That taught it and Barrington some hard lessons about water use and water conservation. 

"We've been talking about how it is that we can help people get better sources of water in the long term and trying to develop a little plan around that," said Frost. 

The hunt for more water

The communities in and around Argyle are considering setting up some permanent infrastructure for droughts, including a public well, said Muise.

"It would just provide another option, it certainly doesn't solve the issue of people not having the access at their home," he said.

"Shower facilities in certain areas were difficult to access particularly in the outskirts of our municipality, so we're looking at some of that infrastructure."

If southern Nova Scotia doesn't get four or five days of solid rain to refresh wells before winter, neither Frost or Muise knows how their municipalities will handle water delivery.

The current system of delivering large containers of water and leaving it outside a home won't work, because the water will freeze before all of it can be used.

With files from Information Morning