Nova Scotia

Dry wells forcing some Nova Scotians to dig deeper for water

Wells drying up has forced some residents, who are lucky enough to afford it, to dig deeper into the ground, to restore water to their homes.

'It's going to mean everything to us to have a water flow,' says Shelburne County man

The province has heard from 1,000 families who have reported their wells have run dry. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

"People don't realize, when you're out of water, you're out of everything."

Ken Brown stands in the yard of his home in Sable River, N.S., watching an excavator dig deep into the ground.

After 50 years on the property servicing two different homes without fail, Brown's 12-foot well finally has run dry.

Brown's community in the Shelburne area of Nova Scotia's South Shore is one of many suffering the effects of an unseasonably dry season.

He has been waiting three weeks for a construction crew to dig a well 1.8 metres deeper, so his home will once again have water.

Ken Brown says his property's well had never run dry in 50 years, until this summer. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

"We've been travelling, carrying water from Shelburne," Brown said. "Our friends have been helping us — we've been using the bathroom at a local park — so it's going to mean everything to us to have a water flow."

Town of Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall says three-quarters of the people who live in her town are on some sort of well.

"Every year people with a dug well, there's going to be a certain amount of people that's going to experience a dry well, that's very common, but the extent this year is beyond anything that we've ever heard," Mattatall said.

Driest summer on record

Nearby Yarmouth County is experiencing the driest summer on record — going back as far as 1880 — and people across the the South Shore have been reporting water shortages for weeks.

The provincial government has been working to find out how many people across the province are dealing with dry wells, and so far, it says 1,000 families have reported having no water.

The province is doing a variety of things to help people whose wells are running dry, including opening public facilities to people who need showers, to providing bottled water, donated by Sobeys and other retailers.

Rain only long-term solution

But the only long-term solution to the problem is rain.

"For some strange reason this year, the water table's so low, so many people's in trouble," Peter Decke of Harlow Construction said.

Decker and his crew have been busy digging new, deeper wells for people who can afford them. Decker says a dug well, which he personally prefers, can cost a family between $3,000 and $4,000. A drilled well can cost $10,000 or more.

With files from Tom Murphy