Development blamed for well drying up

Dave Bartlett
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Kilbride couple periodically left without water asks for city's help

Edward and Elizabeth Power live in a cozy home on Old Bay Bulls Road. Unfortunately, the comfortable and well appointed house lacks one modern convenience that most people would consider essential — drinkable water. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

A Kilbride couple who has been going without water for weeks on end, wants the city of St. John's to hook them up to the municipal water supply or drill them an artesian well.

Edward and Elizabeth Power have lived in their home on Old Bay Bulls Road for more than 45 years and have a shallow well which has been contaminated for at least 15 years.

But the couple managed by bringing in drinking water until three years ago, when their well started drying up completely for long stretches of time, usually in the fall.

They blame a nearby subdivision for lowering the water table in the area.

"That one really did the job on us. Before that we had trouble, but it wasn't as bad as (it is) now," said Edward.

"They did one favour for me though," he said about the development.

"I'm not getting as much water in my basement. I think they drained the whole meadow."

"We didn't complain about it until we had no water," adds Elizabeth.

"We carried drinking water all these years and we never complained about it."

But after the well started drying up, the couple had to drive to their daughter's home in Topsail just to take showers.

Before the subdivision was built, they said their well would sometimes go dry in late summer if there was little rain.

When that would happen, the city would truck in water for washing, which they would have to carry into their home by the bucketful. They haven't had any water deliveries in at least two years.

They're in their 70s now and can no longer tote water by themselves.

Elizabeth has arthritis and has had two knee replacements. Edward has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has to use a puffer after walking up a flight of stairs.

In December 2008, they say Mayor Dennis O'Keefe told them he was "99.999 per cent sure" they would be hooked up to the municipal water supply in spring 2009.

While three other nearby homes on Walsh's Lane were hooked up in October 2009, the city told the Powers that because of the grade of their land, they could not be connected.

This fall, when their well went dry in September, they moved to their trailer in Bay Roberts for two weeks where they have running water. When they returned, they ran a chain of hoses - about 400 feet long - from a relative's home on Walsh's Lane so they could have enough water to wash. But when the weather got cold in October and November, the hoses started to freeze.

Given the snow on the ground, they don't have much water right now.

"We've got enough water to flush the toilet and do our dishes," said Ed. "But what's going to happen when May comes and that well goes dry?"

They say they don't want to cause a ruckus, and were reluctant to talk to reporters. But their daughter has been pushing them to tell their story in the hopes the city will act.

When the issue was raised at a city council meeting last month, Ward 5 Coun. Wally Collins - who is both the councillor for the area and the chairman of the city's public works committee - noted he's aware of the issue and that the city is trying to come up with a solution. The matter was sent back to the public works committee, but no date is set for its next meeting.

The Conservative MHA for the area, John Dinn, is a former city councillor for Ward 5 and has been trying to help the couple, as well.

"I think the city should treat the Powers the same as other people ... that lost water in their shallow wells when services went in," said Dinn.

He said a number of other homes were hooked up to city water or had artesian wells drilled by the city.

"I think it's time for council to make a motion and get this dealt with," Dinn said. "It's going to come down to a political decision anyway."

Neither O'Keefe nor Collins could be reached for comment by The Telegram's deadline.


Organizations: Conservative MHA

Geographic location: Kilbride, St. John's, Old Bay Bulls Road Topsail Bay Roberts

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Recent comments

  • Supporter
    February 06, 2012 - 18:57

    It is obviously the construction/ ongoing development adjacent to both sides of the property has caused a decrease to the water table as this would answer or seem obvious to me why this issue of having no water in the fall/ winter only happened in the last few years. The council as it seems approved this development, I would assume... Was a study conducted taken into consideration the effect of long term residents in the area? In Torbay recently, a proposal was put forward for development and a study was conducted resulting from concern raised by shallow well owners in the area, Torbay development was "denied" due to the risk of this same thing happening to those residents. As noted in the paper by MHA, John Dinn a number of "other" residents in the area received support by council so what is the delay? The council should be held accountable and give these residents the same "WATER". Hook them up.

  • Paradise
    February 06, 2012 - 12:40

    I think that the City of St. John's should provide the Power's with adequate drinking water by hooking them to the municipal water supply or put in an artesian well. The City of St. John's has been aware of the problem for some time but they have yet to do anything to correct the problem. The Power's have been patient long enough and it is time Mayor O'Keefe guarantee 100 percent that they will get water now.

    • Supporter
      February 06, 2012 - 18:28

      It is obviously, the development adjacent on both sides of this property caused a decrease in the ground water as this development was approved by council with no consideration of the current residents. These residents have been in the area for over 45 years so, why is the problem only occuring now within the last few years? In Torbay, they had recently received a proposal for development and when a study was conducted as shallow water well residents put forward their concerns, the study determined that such development would interfere thus, the development was "denied". In this case this issue was caused by the city approving this devlopment therfore the city should be held accountable for their actions. Give them the "water" they so much deserve, others in the area already received council support what is the delay?

  • Marie
    February 06, 2012 - 12:37

    I think that the City of St. John's should provide the Power's with adequate drinking water by hooking them to the municipal water supply or put in an artesian well. The City of St. John's has been aware of the problem for some time but they have yet to do anything to correct the problem. The Power's have been patient long enough and it is time Mayor O'Keefe guarantee 100 percent that they will get water now.

  • David Wilson
    February 05, 2012 - 19:39

    I am sick at tired of the nonsense. I pay City taxes and I don't want one cent to go towards providing these people with a artesian well. Go and pay for it yourselves. You surface well isn't deep enough anyways. You could start by digging the existing well deeper. These type of whiners get under my last nerve going to the media in an attempt to get their way. Shame on you and your daughter for putting you up to this foolishness. If your daughter is so concerned she should pony up and pay for your upgraded well.

  • Rita
    February 05, 2012 - 09:16

    I believe that they have cause to sue the city. From what I have heard and read on the matter it seems like the surrounding development effected their well. therefore it is the city's responsibility to correct the problem. Mayor O'Keefe show some compasion for this couple and use your power as MAYOR to enforce that this is handled in the spring. Otherwise, I say sue the city not only for replacement of their well but suffering and inconvenience as well.

  • barbara sugars
    February 04, 2012 - 23:56

    This land was in the Walsh family for many generations. My father Peter Walsh, gave his niece Betty her building lot about 50 yrs ago. He must be rolling in his grave to see what the city fo St John's is doing to her now. Shame on them

  • Sparky
    February 04, 2012 - 21:17

    I think the City Of St.Johns should be very ashamed that those people have had to put-up with those living conditions for sooo long,I live in CBS & I SURELY don`t want any amalgamation with this kind of a council ! The roads out here a like the 1980`s, but we do have running water. I would`nt pay anymore taxes!

  • MallRat
    February 04, 2012 - 19:01

    Come on Wally, Come on DOC, bring in the bys and drill that damn Rock! It may cost the city 5K and a 1/4 but you have to deliver the Powers their Water! Your rant is your roar, they want deep well Hydration, bring it to them or forget AMALGAMATION! When H2o flows the Powers will cheer, but these towns Won't join for another hundred Years!!!

  • Michelle
    February 04, 2012 - 13:47

    Absolutely ridiculous that people within city limits, especially our elders have to live like this!! Maybe they should try living like this and see how they like it, my guess is they wouldn't! I for one can't imagine living like that for years, water above all things. Absolutely shameful!!

  • Cynthia
    February 04, 2012 - 13:36

    The City should be down right ashamed for allowing these senor citizens to go without the necessity of running water. Hook them up and give them a refund on their city tax bill for lack of services!! Shame on you and get off your butts and fix the issue.

  • Edmund
    February 04, 2012 - 12:17

    Just goes to show what O'Keefe's word is worth, especially after 3 years has passed. Must have been an election year when he made the promise. As has been said before he has absolutely no idea how to run a city. Council should start spending the taxpayers money on the taxpayers and not on giving themselves lucrative wage increases. Just go and give these poor people the water hook up that they deserve.

  • joe
    February 04, 2012 - 11:36

    Why is council delaying this matter ? Wally Collins is aware of the situation and says the city is trying to come up with a solution. Dennis O'Keefe has been aware for some time because he told the couple they would have hook up by spring 2009--almost 3 years ago. I didn't realize that water hookup was such a difficult and time consuming activity. Collins and O'Keefe for the sake of not looking disgraceful if nothing else, fix the problem. I would not want to see you in charge of Muskrat Falls

  • W Bagg
    February 04, 2012 - 09:46

    ..........and OKeefe is always squawking about amalgamation with Mount Pearl, Paradise, CBS and St. John's can't even provide water to homes that got amalgamated 20 years ago.

  • Give me a break
    February 04, 2012 - 09:18

    This couples pays property taxes to the City of St. John's, the development the city has authorized is the leading factor in this couples well drying up. Am I missing something here? why has this situation not be rectified already. This is a property within a couple kms of city hall but yet doesn't have city water services? Come Mayor O'Keefe, city counsel and provincial officials use some common sense and get this elderly couple a water supply. Bureaucracy at its finest here.