Nova Scotia

Dry weather drains wells, and water haulers scramble to fill them all

It’s been a month without any significant rainfall in Nova Scotia. Wells in parts of the province have little water, farmers are hoping for rain and forests are critically dry.

Nova Scotia has had little rain in the last month, creating water problems in Hants County

A water delivery truck fills up at a bulk water distribution depot in Enfield, N.S. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

It's been a month without any significant rainfall in Nova Scotia and parts of the province are quickly starting to dry up.

"It's been pretty overwhelming with calls," said Jason Bellefontaine, who operates J & B Water, a bulk water distributor based in Hants County. "Right now we have over 80 calls on our list, with dry wells everywhere."

Bellefontaine said he often gets calls in the summer to fill dug wells in the area, but never this early in the season. His list of water deliveries is now backed up to July 4.

"I'm passing out other names for haulers in the area between Truro and the city," said Bellefontaine. "I just can't do them all, there is no possible way we can do all the calls that are coming in."

Rainfall totals in May were below normal, with most of the precipitation coming early in the month. The last half of May and most of June has been without any significant rainfall.

The dry conditions go back to a lack of winter snowfall in many sections of the province. That meant there was very little spring runoff, and water levels were already low before the latest stretch of dry weather.

Dry weather drains wells, and water haulers scramble to fill them all

1 year ago
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It’s been a month without any significant rainfall in Nova Scotia. Wells in parts of the province have little water, farmers are hoping for rain and forests are critically dry. 2:02

Cheryl O'Halloran, who lives on the outskirts of Enfield, is now getting water dumped into her dug well on a weekly basis.

"We've been three weeks now where we've had to get water brought in," said O'Halloran. "With no rain coming at all, we're finding we have to do it every week now."

Bellefontaine said he has many customers like O'Halloran clamouring for water delivery, and his phone is being inundated with calls and text messages.

"I'm trying to put everybody who has babies, the elderly or people with animals, first," said Bellefontaine, who has been delivering water since 2004. "We're not filling any swimming pools at the moment, we just have to look after the wells."

The water level in the Nine Mile River is very low as it flows through a section of Elmsdale, N.S. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

In Yarmouth County, officials there are already urging people to reduce their water usage.

"The level of dryness is what we might expect in August," said Janine Muise, regional emergency management co-ordinator for Yarmouth County. "It seems very similar to the experience we had in 2016."

Four years ago, a prolonged dry spell saw several communities in southwestern Nova Scotia open up community spaces for people to get drinking water and have showers.

COVID-19 is forcing some municipalities to rethink their plans.

"Because of COVID we've had to adjust our plans considerably and that's what we are working on now," said Muise. "Because of social distancing and keeping people safe, we are looking at various alternatives."

Kara McCurdy is a fire prevention officer with Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forestry. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Farmers around the province enjoyed the dry spring because it made planting crops easy. But now those crops are in dire need of rain, and another week or two of no precipitation could be disastrous.

Forests around the province are also critically dry. An early-season flurry of fires in late May kept firefighters busy.

Despite a continued lack of rain since then there haven't been any more major fires.

Heading into the weekend the entire province is under a no-burn ban.

"Were concerned that if anybody has a campfire that it could escape, or it could spark when the wind picks up," said Kara McCurdy, this week's fire duty officer with the Department of Lands and Forestry.

"Even ATV use in the woods, people should check their exhaust to make sure there is no accumulation of vegetation."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.

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