Diving into drinking water

Water quality, availability an issue for N.L.

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on August 10, 2015
A sign posted at Big Pond, visible just off Route 201 between Bellevue and Thornlea, marks it as a protected water source. From protection of the water supply to required pumps, filtration, treatment, piping and connections — towns and local service districts are having a hard time providing safe drinking water for residents.— Photo by Ashley Fitzpatrick/The Telegram

There are 243 boil-water advisories on public water systems in Newfoundland and Labrador. At this point in 2008 — a critical year when numbers spiked — there were 255.

Boil-water advisories can be temporary and simply the result of a day’s maintenance. However, this province has plenty of long-standing cautions, with some dating back to the 1980s.

Recently the City of St. John’s made a commitment to expand the parameters covered in its regular water quality testing.

But outside the city, there are residents on a town water system, paying water tax, who welcome even the possibility of a potable water system. That is, a station to fill up large bottles they can carry home, for access to safe drinking water.

The individual stories have popped up over time — a resident with a well suddenly run dry, a business owner claiming damage from town service, an individual upset by a grimy, coloured or smelly tap water they consider unfit to drink.

Over the next few days, The Telegram will be providing more information on water quality, with first-hand accounts of the hunt for clean water and examples of how both individuals and communities are finding their way forward.