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.