Advisory of the Day
MONASTERY, NS: BWA ISSUED FOR MOBILE PARK PROLONGED BY OWNER'S NEGLECT
This story is brought to you in part by Energy Systems & Designs
Residents living in White's Mobile Home Park in Monastery, Nova Scotia were issued a Boil Water Advisory (BWA) on November 3. Monastery is a small dairy farming community in Antigonish County located on the Northumberland Strait. The mobile home park is home to about 40 residents.
Monastery is most known as the site of the Our Lady of Grace monastery where the Monks of St. Maron live. Originally founded in 1825 by a Trappist Monk from France, one order or another has occupied the monastery ever since. The monastery is a local tourist attraction as well as a place for those seeking spiritual rejuvenation.
The BWA was issued after a test came back positive for Total Coliforms. According to Health Canada's Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, standards for Total Coliforms are counts of 0/100ml. Health Canada's Guidelines explain that "in non disinfected groundwater the presence of Total Coliforms may indicate that the system is vulnerable to contamination, or it may be a sign of bacterial regrowth."
Rather than get their drinking water from a county water system, residents at White's Mobile Home Park get their drinking water from a well at the park. But Manager for the Antigonish office of Nova Scotia Environment, Tanya Mackenzie says "it is a registered public water supply and therefore must meet the requirements."
Mackenzie said "the problem started with a broken water line coming from one of the mobile homes." Because no one was occupying the mobile home it went unnoticed until the well ran dry. She said that although Nova Scotia Environment requires that two tests come back negative within 24 hours of each other, no tests have been done since the initial one that led to the BWA.
She added that "they were asked to provide Nova Scotia Environment with a Corrective Action Plan." When asked if that was because they had had problems in the past she said she couldn't say.
The phone number for the owner of the park that NS Environment had in their file had been disconnected, and no name was on the file. An internet search turned up nothing for the park or it's owner. After numerous attempts to find a means of contacting the owner, this reporter decided to go there in person.
Upon arrival a large "For Sale" sign could be seen with a phone number to contact Joe White, owner of the park who works in Fort McMurray much of the time. It seems his home, and the mobile home park have been for sale for some time.
One resident I spoke to said "I knew something was wrong [with the water] when I turned my tap on and nothing came out." The well has since been filled with water from a nearby river. When asked if she had been told about the BWA, she said "if it wasn't for my neighbour I would not have known not to drink it, and I have to be careful about my daughter, she's only 4."
She said that "it's the second or third time since the summer that the well has gone dry and been re-filled but I'm not sure if they're putting in the proper chemicals."
Another resident I spoke to said he wasn't told by the landlord not to drink the water either, but rather that it was a neighbour who let him know he'd be better off drinking bottled water. Though he specified that another neighbour has been drinking it and hasn't gotten sick. Neither of the residents I spoke to were willing to give me their name, one said it was because she did not think [the landlord] would like it.
Later a successful call was finally placed to the owner Joe White, in Alberta. A very apprehensive Mr. White answered with some hesitation that "it was on September 24 that one of the mobile homes had a water leak that drained the well dry." He said "I re-filled the well myself before heading back to work in Fort McMurray on November 3, it was the day after that I got a call from NS Environment about the water."
When asked if he had advised the residents, he said that he let everyone know to boil it. He went on to explain that they had had a dry summer and asked this reporter if it had been raining lately in Nova Scotia. He said that he did have a chlorine system in the pumping system.
He added that he's "owned the park for 27 years and every time [the well] is dry, it's because there's a leak."
When asked if any tests had been done since the initial one he admitted there hadn't been, saying that the property manager who fills in for him when he's away works nights. When pressed on when the BWA could be lifted he offered "I see what you're saying, people gotta have clean water. I'll have someone come in and check the level of the well and do the tests ASAP." He added that the problem should be fixed by next week.