Nova Scotia

Parks supplying water during shortage may have to close, despite need

Cold weather could shut down provincial parks that are supplying hundreds of people in Nova Scotia with water.

‘When we start getting frost we're going to have to shut them down,’ says natural resources minister

Laurie Provincial Park near Fall River is one of the sites that has been kept open to allow people to get showers and drinking water during the province's water shortage. (CBC)

Mother Nature may force provincial parks being used to supply people with water during the dry weather to close at the end of the month, even though people are still in need of water. 

Ten parks in the province are being kept open until Oct. 27, so people can get drinking water and take showers. Hundreds of people have taken advantage of the service in the last few weeks according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

It has cost the department $50,000 to keep staff on to keep the parks running smoothly. 

'We cannot go beyond the frost time' 

The expense of keeping the parks open isn't what will force them to close at the end of October, it's Mother Nature. 

A volunteer firefighter in Port Medway, N.S., checks water levels in a local well. Many wells went dry this summer. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

"The water lines are subject to frost. We cannot go beyond the frost time," said Lloyd Hines, minister of natural resources. 

"We didn't want to take any chances into November, we're starting to get heavy frost now. We're pretty well hobbled by the seasonal turn. When we start getting frost we're going to have to shut them down."

Water levels still low 

That's bad news for the Emergency Management Office. It would like to keep the parks open as long as possible. There are other ways to get water to the public though said Zach Churchill, the minister in charge of EMO.

Lloyd Hines Nova Scotia's natural resources minister says frost will force his department to close provincial parks supplying water to the public. (Department of Natural Resources)

"We've also opened up some schools, there's some community centres that have opened up, a lot of volunteer fire departments have opened up their facilities some of which have laundry and or shower facilities." 

The water table in many areas is so low that the rain on Monday won't be enough to return water levels to normal.

James Campbell, the spokesman for Halifax Water, said last week it would take at least 150 mm of rain over four or five days to help restore water levels in his area.

'We do need a lot of water'

The southwestern shore of Nova Scotia has been hit even harder than Halifax, suffering through a water shortage that's lasted weeks. 

Mike Shand, the EMO coordinator for Shelburne County East, said water levels are starting to rise and many wells are beginning to work normally.

He said Monday's heavy rainfall will help, but he warns that people should still conserve water until ground water levels improve. 

Much of Nova Scotia has been brown and dry this summer because of an unusual lack of rain. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

"We do need a lot of water to bring the water table up to a point where these wells are going to hold and retain water, so that's an ongoing concern," said Churchill.     

His office is also working with the Retail Council of Canada to make sure anyone who needs drinking water is supplied with it. Churchill said the water situation is starting to stabilize.

"The little bits of rain we've had have helped and you know some people have seen an improvement to their condition," said Churchill. "But of course we need to keep monitoring the situation and do whatever needs to be done to get water to those who need it."