2017-10-04

Water shortage impacting growth in Chester

by Michael Lee

A report on Chester's groundwater supply says shortages are limiting the potential for further development in the village.

CBCL Limited detailed a number of findings related to Chester's current supply, and the means by which people get their water, in a report provided to the Municipality of Chester.

The report concluded there is a potential to develop a central groundwater supply for the village.

"The introduction of central water would substantially improve the consistency, quality, and access to water for many residents of the Village, with improved monitoring and source water protection."

The question is does the village have the potential to expand and Warden Allen Webber said council needs to know if there is a willingness in the community to grow.

If there is no interest, he said council cannot justify paying the expenditure for a central system.

"We need to find that out in order to be able to move forward with this process."

The report cost around $21,000. The next phase of the study will involve a socioeconomic analysis to determine the costs and benefits of a central supply.

This will cost an estimated $10,000, which the municipality expects to cost-share with the village commission.

CBCL also conducted a homeowner survey and found that 23 per cent of those who had wells, or 73 out of 317 respondents, said they had a shortage during the 2016 drought - 10 of these homes had drilled wells and 63 had dug wells or cisterns.

About 24 per cent said they required additional water and 18 respondents said their primary source for water was trucked in.

Existing climate models suggest the rate and frequency of extreme weather events is increasing in Nova Scotia, the report said, meaning droughts, like the one experienced last year, will likely be repeated.

When it came to treatment, a number of different methods were used including UV light, water softening, chlorine and reverse osmosis.

However, the raw water in 50 out of 81 wells contained coliform bacteria, which doesn't pose a direct threat to humans but can elevate the risk of E. coli and other pathogenic infections in water supplies.

Coliform bacteria is relatively common in dug wells, CBCL said, particularly those with poor covers and rock-lined construction.

E. coli was found in one well water supply and one trucked-in supply, but the data showed no evidence of systemic or wide-spread contamination.

CBCL identified the Middle River area as a potential source for a central supply.

The municipality has looked at Spectacle Lake previously as its primary source for a central water system, but a municipal staff person said using a groundwater supply could be more cost-effective than surface water.

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