After weeks of trying to figure out what was up with the town's water supply, Holyrood has finally solved the mystery.
On Sept. 17, the town lifted a ban on non-essential water usage after fixing a major leak in its system. The ban was initiated more than a month ago after demand on its supply far exceed normal usage.
Coun. Jim Joy, chair of the infrastructure and public works committee, said staff spent a lot of time trying to find the leak, which was finally uncovered on Sept. 10. Someone in the basement of Hickey's Funeral Home heard the sound of running water. It was determined the leak was actually in a six-inch line on an adjacent vacant land, which had flooded as a result.
Town CAO Gary Corbett said, "it's easier to find a needle in a haystack than it is to find water leaking in a town."
The town thought it had solved the problem when it repaired a leak on Ridge Road in August along with some other smaller ones. But issues with the supply persisted. According to the CAO, the town was losing 70,000 gallons of water daily — an amount just under what the municipality typically uses.
"We knew it had to be a large leak, but there was no sign of any evidence of it," he said at the Sept. 17 regular meeting, adding staff walked around the entire community trying to detect the leak.
The tank's supply, from eight artesian wells, dropped lower each day. Thirty feet in height, the supply at its lowest level was down to 19 feet. According to Corbett, this resulted in the more elevated areas of town getting water at a reduced pressure.
"We were getting pretty close to looking at an alternate measure," the CAO said. To help alleviate the supply shortage, the town started shutting water off in segments for several hours at a time. This replenished the supply minimally.
The town eventually sent out a notice asking residents to check their properties for excessive water or the sound of water running.
"We were just fortunate that the owners of a business here in Holyrood, a funeral home business, just went into the basement," Corbett said. "The gentleman heard the water, and the rest was history."
The water shut offs had been relegated to night, but Corbett said had the leak not been detected when it was, the town would have started to shut off the supply during the day in different neighbourhoods on a rotational basis.
While the water ban has been lifted, the municipality's domestic water conservation plan remains in effect. It can be found online at http://holyrood.ca/domestic-water-conservation-plan-june-21-2019/.
Meanwhile, the town has prioritized infrastructure in a new application to the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. It's looking for support to purchase a new 500,000-gallon water tank and drill two new wells. The project would have an estimated cost of $1.645 million.