Water woes: Portugal Cove South's water supply has been a problem for year, but council still determined to find a solution

By Chris Lewis | The Irish Loop Post | Vol. 12 No. 03 (February 7 2019)

Water supply issues in the community of Portugal Cove South continue to pose a problem for residents in the area.

According to a list of boil water advisories for public water supplies coming from the provincial government, the Wrights Brook supply system in the community was issued on Aug. 23rd, 2017. The list, which was most recently updated on Monday, Feb. 4th, states the reasoning behind the advisory pertains to the chlorine levels found in the water.

Water entering the distribution system, after a minimum 20-minute contact time, does not have a free chlorine residual of at least 0.3 mg/l or equivalent, according to the document.

These levels should stay within 0.2 and 0.5 mg/l, with higher concentrations of chlorine possibly resulting in discoloured water, or water with a foul taste.

Portugal Cove South councillor Lucas Ward says the community is actively seeking out a means of remedying the issue, though notes that it’s something they have been dealing with for a while now.

“Basically, we’re still on a boil water advisory, and that’s a similar story for a lot of communities across the province,” Ward said. “It’s hard to get the chlorine to distribute evenly amongst the community.” Ward explained that the system the community currently has in place has been filtering larger amounts of chlorine into water going to certain areas of the community, while other areas are seeing much less.

“There are places in the middle of the community who get a big shot of chlorine, and by the time it reaches the end of the water line, (the chlorine) is pretty well all used up,” Ward said, noting that the boil water order is currently the town’s biggest issue pertaining to its water supply system.

“In order to get that order off, we have to have a safe level of free chlorine all throughout the community.”

The Wrights Brook system currently services approximately 150 residents.

“This has been a struggle for as long as I can remember,” Ward said. “There have been times where the boil water advisory was lifted, but again, something would happen and of course the advisory would be put back in place.”

In the past, Ward says the water line has had some older parts replaced, which he noted resulted in a temporary fix for some residents serviced by the line. However, it was not permanent, and Ward hopes that some plans the town has in place may prove to be more effective.

Ward added the reservoir’s location tends to see a lot of marsh run-off, and heavy rainfalls tend to pose their own set of problems, specifically when the reservoir fills up with rainwater.

“We’re working on flushing the lines on a regular basis. That’s something we’re trying out. That, and we’ll be monitoring the actual amount of chlorine that’s being put into the system,” Ward said. “But unfortunately, we haven’t come up with a solution just yet.”

Posted on February 13, 2019 .