When Gerald Sparkes turns on the hot water tap at his home on Dunn’s Hill Road in Conception Bay South, it does not take long to notice a sulphur-like smell.
“Later on this evening, that will be black,” Sparkes said, pointing to a glass of water.
Smell ‘really, really bad’
“If you went in the washroom and took a shower and go in there after, I don’t say you’d be able to stand it. It’s really, really bad.”
An arrangement that would have allowed his home to hook up to new neighbourhood water lines almost came to be, but he said a neighbour who owns a slim boundary between the side of Sparkes’ home and Leewood Place prohibited workers from making the connection.
Sparkes and his wife have lived on Dunn’s Hill Road for 30 years, and water from the well was initially fine. It was within the last few years that the problems began.
A tank costing almost $1,000 was purchased to try to deal with the issue, but it did not solve the problem.
Water stains and is undrinkable
Water coming from the well on his property is undrinkable, and he needs to use a special product to deal with iron content when washing dishes or clothes, otherwise they become stained.
While Sparkes’ brother was recently home to attend the funeral of their mother, he used the bathroom sink one day to wash his face and immediately vomited because of the smell.
Sparkes said an easy fix is beyond his means. He does not work and lives on a disability pension because of anxiety and bouts of depression. He once served as a volunteer firefighter in C.B.S.
The deal to get connected to the town’s water supply, according to Sparkes, involved allowing the water line to go through undeveloped land he owns in order to supply water to homes in the neighbourhood. He said the move made development impossible for two potential building lots situated behind his home.
On the day his hookup was set to take place, Sparkes said he was told the owner of the boundary between Sparkes’ land and the road, Wayne Woodland, would not allow workers to use his land.
“They put the hookup 30 feet away from my window, and they hooked up our next door neighbour. They were going to come over here and hook up to me the next morning, and they were told not to,” said Sparkes. “I’m after talking to (Woodland) saying, ‘What do you want?’”
Sparkes said all he needs from Woodland is a piece of land three feet wide and two feet long for the hookup, but claims the asking price is too high. He said Woodland wants to exchange it for property in front of Sparkes’ home.
Neighbour questions reasoning
Speaking with The Telegram last week, Woodland said Sparkes can get a water hookup through his driveway facing Dunn’s Hill Road and should not have to make use of Woodland’s property.
“He’s got a driveway on Dunn’s Hill Road accessible to water and sewer,” said Woodland.
“Why would I let anyone go across my land?”
Woodland went on to say that “down the road,” he may have plans for using the land serving as a boundary between Sparkes’ home and Leewood Place. He said if Sparkes had approached him at the time the hookup on that street was being set up, perhaps they could have made an arrangement.
“You’ve got to talk to people. You just don’t decide to do something and do it when you don’t own it,” said Woodland. “That’s the same as me saying, ‘Well to hell with that, I’m going to put it across buddy’s land next to me.’ That don’t work.”
When water lines were first set up in that area on Dunn’s Hill Road, Sparkes said he was told getting hooked up from there would require digging a very deep hole and at least one lift pump, if not two, which he would need to pay for himself.
“I haven’t got money to do something like that,” he said.
He has brought the matter of his water situation to the attention of both Mayor Woodrow French and local MHA Terry French, but said neither was able to offer help.