Water, water everywhere, and all the drops do stink

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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‘I almost vomited,’ says Bell Island resident

A Bell Island resident wants to know why her drinking water is discoloured and smelly.

Discoloured water in Lisa Gear’s washing machine.

“When my husband cut into the water tank, I almost vomited,” Lisa Gear told The Telegram on Monday.

For Gear and her husband, the problem began when the moved into their house in November.

“When we moved here, we notced the stains around the bathtub. Our bathtub was stained yellow, our toilet was stained yellow,” she said. “We had to use this iron-remover stuff to clean, to make it look nice. And every couple of days I had to use the same stuff to clean out residue.”

It was annoying, but tolerable, she said, until Christmas, when water drawn for a bath splashed out dirty yellow.

Gear found the same problem with her washer — “the washer was completely disgusting” — so she called Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine, who said the town would flush out the water lines. That improved the colouration somewhat, but the problem worsened again about a week ago, and now the water smells, she says.

“The smell was unbearable. Every time we used our hot water, the smell would knock you backwards,” she said. “It was rancid. It was like almost rotten eggs — very strong, disgusting.”

That was when the couple decided to replace the water heater, even though theirs was only five years old.

“When my husband drained it, it came out the colour of dark coffee,” she said. “I was really upset. This is gross. This is what we wash in.”

She consulted a water engineer, who told her it was the worst hot water tank he’d ever seen.

“It looked like a septic tank, not a hot-water tank,” said Gear.

The engineer told her Bell Island’s water infrastructure needs a complete overhaul — Wabana has been under a boil-water advisory for years — and that the island’s pipes aren’t strong enough to handle the flushing necessary to clear up the problem.

After Gear took to the web to complain about her water troubles, which she said other people in her area have also been experiencing, she said Gosine called her to rebuke her for it, and said the town is replacing a pumphouse, but Gear said he admitted that likely wouldn’t solve her problem.

“So I’m meant to be patient and wait, but he doesn’t expect to get any more provincial help or capital funds, because they have money that they’re waiting to use on some other water issue that will never fix my pipes,” she said.

Gosine requested time to review the situation and asked The Telegram to call back Monday afternoon.

“I’d rather you ask me this afternoon because I’ll go to our work superintendent. Today is a holiday, it’s not a good day,” he said. “You give me a call this afternoon, and I want to brief myself on some of this stuff and I should be more familiar when you’re asking me questions.”

But on Monday afternoon, Gosine asked for more time and said he’d call back by noon Tuesday.

“If it’s a problem going on for months, you’re telling me that you can’t wait for, I don’t know what it is, 15 hours or something?” said Gosine, who denied asking The Telegram to call back Monday afternoon. “I didn’t say that, sir. … I told you to call me back in the morning.”

Gosine said he wasn’t prepared to discuss the issue Monday.

“I’m waiting for two plumbers to get back to work tomorrow morning, and then I can give you my side of the story, so that’s not asking too much,” he said. “If I give you my side now, I’m not giving you everything that I should know.”

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com, Twitter: @DanMacEachern

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Bell Island, Wabana

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Recent comments

  • Keith Morrissey
    March 16, 2016 - 00:09

    This has been a problem on Bell Island for at least the past 50 years. I remember as a child having to bleach the stains caused by the water off our dishes. This state of affairs cannot help but have a detrimental effect on the health of the Bell Island residents.

  • Kerri
    March 15, 2016 - 11:58

    Wow! Sitting here thanking my lucky stars I don't live on Bell Island.

  • The Premier
    March 15, 2016 - 11:55

    There's no industry on the island. We spend a small fortune to support the legacy community there. Close down Bell Island and move the people to the mainland. We can't afford it.

    • Java
      March 15, 2016 - 14:39

      It is very close to industry with some of the few affordable housing prices left. If they fixed some of the issues, it would become more populated and then there might BE some industry there. Tell me, what industry is in Pouch Cove? Or any of the other areas of the province that are "supported" by other areas. You forget that Bell Island has been almost metropolitan in the past, and many people are creatively finding ways to start businesses there, such as diving in the mines. There is potential, but would you live somewhere without water when the mayor won't even get out of his own way to answer a question?? HUGE barrier, if you ask me. You want the Island to be self-sufficient, it needs to have basics. And it needs the council to actually CHANGE. Many of them are ignorant of facts, and only change things for their "friends."

    • The real Calvin
      March 15, 2016 - 15:03

      Tell me Java, how much does it cost the provincial government to provide ferry service to Pouch Cove every year?

  • james
    March 15, 2016 - 10:04

    Time to replace the MAYOR

  • Tap Runs Gold
    March 15, 2016 - 09:53

    Good question! I have asked and asked, and there is no understandable answer-the solution that I always get-the pipes have to be flushed and that is something that I have to request! I am now at the stage that I document and call "The Town" monthly. It gives me three to four days of "dirty clean water" for laundry. After that, the water becomes filthy. I have lived with this issue for the past 25 years-Town of Wabana. I call constantly and have petitioned the Council, had elected officials come to my home to experience the filthy water that I am being billed for annually. The Town of Wabana staff have shown great patience and empathy for my household but their task is to deal with the immediate issue. In 2016, I am forced daily to collect 18L bottles of water, from the TOWN WATER STATION, for drinking, cooking, washing, and other daily activities. Is this your solution? This is an issue that plagues many, many, many, residents. I fear and have expressed my fear that the "water problem" of Bell Island is a HEALTH issue for all residents.

  • Tap Runs Gold
    March 15, 2016 - 09:46

    Good question! I have asked, and asked, and there is no understandable answer - the solution that I always get - the pipes have to be flushed and that is something that I have to request! I am now at the stage that I document and call "The Town" monthly. It gives me three to four days of "dirty clean water" for laundry. After that, the water becomes filthy. I have lived with this issue for the past 25 yrs. - Town of Wabana. I call constantly and have petitioned the Council, had elected officials visit my home to experience the filthy water that I am being billed for annually. The Town of Wabana staff have shown great patience and empathy for my household but their task is to deal with the immediate issue. In 2016, I am forced to collect 18L bottles of water, from the :"Town Water Station", for drinking, cooking, washing and other daily activities. Is this your solution? Never, not once, have I heard from "The Town" any explanation for a problem that plagues many, many, many residents! I fear and have expressed my fear that the "water problem" of Bell Island is a HEALTH issue for all residents.

    • The Premier
      March 15, 2016 - 11:56

      The solution is why are you living on Bell Island if there's no industry there? It's not like there's a mine there anymore.

  • Wabana
    March 15, 2016 - 08:47

    I haven't lived on the island for 5yrs now but still have family there. This has been going on for 20 yrs or more with Gosine and the plumbers1 knowing the problems all along. This will never get fixed. The plumbers make more than double their base salary on overtime taking care of the aging system.

  • Lisa Gear
    March 15, 2016 - 08:34

    I understand Darryl that it is prudent for the mayor to have all the information. However over the last 2 weeks he, along with the superintendent of the town and other employees of the town met and discussed some of the major issues with an invited guest engineer. Mayor Gosine is well aware of the issues that plague our water system. I want to know what the town is doing about this, what the solution is and is my water safe.

  • Senior
    March 15, 2016 - 08:23

    and we have the highest rate of municipal tax compared to other residing communities. WHAT FOR ????? No more ???? time for the community to take a stance on this one. Yes we have aging pipelines but fix it..... Seniors are having to go to the water pump area for drinking water some have no vehicles and have to pay taxis to bring the water to them as well most seniors cannot lift the heavy water bottles. Our Town has failed us on this one. They have no trouble in crunching figures to pay themselves with an increase in pay they recently received and in turn dinged all the residents increased taxes and left us with dirty and dangerous water to wash our clothes in bath ourselves and our young children in. Come on Town of Wabana stop the lying to us !!!!!

    • The Premier
      March 15, 2016 - 20:00

      What for? Well you live on an isolated rock that's not even attached to the isolated rock that is the province. Providing services there isn't cheap. Time to shut the island down. The provincial government spent $100M on the two ferries there. It's too expensive.

    • Ann Jackman
      March 16, 2016 - 18:31

      I also have called council about the water ruining our clothes and not being able to brush your teeth in the dirty water and was told by the works manager at the time "at least you have water" Really huh!!! Plus we have to spend more money to buy caustic iron out solution to get our clothes clean. I'm glad some of the people are finally speaking out. Yes Senior there's always enough money for their increases and bonuses. It's an unfair and greedy world huh???

  • darryl
    March 15, 2016 - 07:43

    sounds like manganese, and I am wondering if the plumber told her that with manganese water, she should flush her hot water boiler several times a year..... lets hope the issue gets resolved..... I think it was prudent for the mayor to wait until he had contact with his official before answering any questions....it is better to be fully informed..... hoping for the best outcome for all....clean water is a necessity of life

  • Benson
    March 15, 2016 - 06:59

    Another reason why this island should be resettled and used for a new penitentiary

    • The Premier
      March 15, 2016 - 20:01

      Prison is an excellent idea for it. It could be Canada's supermax. You wouldn't even need that much security. Where could they go?

  • leo
    March 14, 2016 - 19:29

    what he is really trying to say is that he is full of crap. that man should have retired 20 years ago. instead he will keep the island in tge dark ages!!!!

  • D
    March 14, 2016 - 18:25

    Why on earth would you want to live over there? Caveat emptor! Up next, taxpayers on the hook for it.

  • Mae
    March 14, 2016 - 16:22

    Why is the water never sent for testing & the results posted. This smelly water has been going on for years.

  • Mae
    March 14, 2016 - 16:21

    Why is the water never sent for testing & the results posted. This smelly water has been going on for years.