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Water Today Title October 22, 2020

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Advisory of the Day



This story is brought to you in part by Microhydro Energy Systems & Designs

The City of Happy Valley-Goose Bay issued a boil water advisory (BWA) on August 9 for several areas due to significant work taking place on their water distribution system.

Affected areas include MacKenzie Drive, Thompson Drive, Mealy Mountain Drive, Barret Street, St. Laurent Street, The Golf Course Suites and Hale Street. It is recommended that residents bring tap water to a boil for one minute prior to consumption.

In late June, Mayor Wally Andersen announced that the entire city would soon be getting their water from Spring Gulch on the 5 Wing Goose Bay Base.

Mayor Andersen said "there have been people in the valley buying water and getting it from wells because the supply of water didn't meet their standards ... for us to be able to get this done after 15 years in the making is a big accomplishment."

Andersen acknowledged the help from the federal government; in late 2017 the city received funding for four Water & Sewer projects under the Small Communities Fund that will improve water quality and safety while preventing flooding.

Currently the municipal water treatment plant supplies about 65% of the water to the town from groundwater wells, while the rest get their water from Spring Gulch owned by The Department of National Defence (DND).

DND has agreed to change the water supply and will now be paying the town for sewage treatment. In exchange residents will pay DND $25 a year for the water.

For years this had been a source of conflict for citizens on municipal water who complained about the water's colour and odour. An image of a bathtub filled with yellow water posted to a community discussion board in 2016 helped bring the issue to the forefront.

That year a report by the Labrador Institute confirmed that something needed to be done about the water coming from the municipal water treatment plant.

The report indicated higher concentrations of trihalomethanes (THMs), which are potential carcinogens. Long term exposure to THMs can be a threat to human health, though the affects of various chemical compounds differ from each other.

The study also found a higher concentration of minerals which can make the water hard, meaning that it can damage household appliances and hot water tanks. It has also caused city and household pipes to corrode which has left elevated levels of lead in the water.

Lead is toxic for humans and animals. According to Health Canada, exposure to lead has been linked to increased blood pressure and renal dysfunction.

As different sections of town are rerouted, more and more residents will begin receiving Spring Gulch water in their homes. Work is expected to finish in the next week or two.

The town expects that once all the work is complete, 90% of Happy Valley-Goose Bay water will be from Spring Gulch and the remaining 10% will be from underground sources to meet demand. Though a slight increase during summer months to accommodate increased consumption may be necessary.


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