Nova Scotia

Southwestern Nova Scotians can soon get municipal loans to remedy dry wells

Nova Scotians who suffered through a drought this summer may soon be able to to drill or expand their wells without worrying about paying for it upfront.

Barrington homeowners eligible for up to $10K loans for wells and cisterns

An official for the Municipality of the District of Barrington said as many as 400 families in the area had wells that ran dry last summer. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

Some residents in southwestern Nova Scotia who suffered through a drought last summer will soon be eligible for a government loan to improve their home's water supply.

The Municipality of the District of Barrington gave first reading to a bylaw Monday night that would allow people to apply for loans to expand their wells or install water-storage tanks.

The province changed the Municipal Government Act last November to give municipalities the authority to offer loans to fight drought conditions, after as many as 400 families in Barrington — about a quarter of the municipality — had wells that ran dry last year.

People who successfully apply to the government can borrow up to $10,000. The amount would be added to the homeowner's property tax bill, to be paid back over 10 years. If the homeowner moves, the bill stays with the property.

Municipality still in 'deficit position'

Rob Frost, the chief administrative officer for the Municipality of the District of Barrington, said there are some residents with dry wells again this year.

"We're keeping an eye on it, and hoping that we have some regular rain on a regular basis," he said.

He told CBC Radio's Information Morning in Halifax that he's already seen lots of interest in the program, which he believes should be in place by early September. Frost said he expects people affected year after year to be the most interested.

Frost said the municipality learned a lot from last year, and keeps a close tab on rainfall forecasts from the province.

"We're still in a deficit position," he said, referring to typical rainfall amounts. "They look at it year over year, so right now I believe we're still about 100 millimetres short."

In a bit of good news for Frost, the municipality was wet on Tuesday morning. 

"I'm happy to see the rain," he said.

With files from Information Morning