Nova Scotia

Argyle residents in 'dire straits' as wells dry up

Water levels in southern parts of Nova Scotia are the lowest they have been in decades — the product of a hot summer and not nearly enough rain.

Municipality offering free 4-litre jugs of water for residents affected by drought

Glenwood resident Helena Brown says she has been in the area for 21 years and has never seen her water levels in her pond so low. (Helena Brown)

Water levels in southern parts of Nova Scotia are the lowest they have been in decades — the product of a hot summer and not nearly enough rain.

Helena Brown, who lives in the Municipality of the District of Argyle, says the well on her property has been hovering at dangerously low levels for more than a month now.

"We are in, what I would consider, dire straits. It's a precarious situation," she said.

Driest summer on record

This year has been the driest summer on record for Yarmouth County, according to CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell. The local weather observation station recorded only 86.6 mm of rain this summer and wells in the area have been drying up for weeks.

Brown says the drought is affecting every aspect of her daily life. She and her husband, who is battling cancer, are not longer able to bathe or do laundry in their own home. Every day, they lug large pails of water from the pond in their yard into the house, just to be able to flush the toilet.

She says she appreciates that people who still have water have opened their homes to their neighbours, but is worried about how long they can sustain that generosity.

"I know these people are doing it out of the good neighbourly spirit that we have here in the Argyle areas. However I'm sure that every shower that comes out of their well and all the rest, it probably puts them in a bit of a fearful mode as well," she said.

Water sources non-existent

Brown isn't alone. Janine Muise, the co-ordinator for the Emergency Measures Organization in Argyle says while she doesn't have exact numbers, she has been astounded by the number of calls from people in the area who are also experiencing water shortages.

"Our fire departments are very concerned because their water sources are going down or are non-existent," she said. "They've had to look for other sources of water, so if there was a house fire, we would be scrounging around for water."

To help ease the situation for residents, the municipality has installed five water stations at local fire halls where people in need can grab four-litre jugs, which have been donated or purchased locally.

'Take what they need'

"People can take what they need. We're not limiting anybody on the water. We hope that they're respectful of other people's need when they take it," Muise said.

Local schools with shower facilities have also opened their doors after-hours for residents to bathe.

Muise says the municipality is doing its best to help residents, but the only thing that will solve the problem is a good rainfall.  

"There's nothing in the foreseeable future ... If we could have a small hurricane, with not a whole lot of wind but a lot of rain, that would help."

With files from Maritime Noon