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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Asvisory of the Day



The trailer park community of Lynnwood Gardens has been living with substandard drinking water for more than a decade. The lack of potable water puts a strain on the day to day lives of community residents. Public officials have encouraged the property owners to address the issue, yet the situations still persists.

Kim Prevost has lived in Lynnwood Gardens for 35 years and has seen her share of water issues.

"Most of the time it's E. coli scares," Prevost said, noting that there are farmers' fields around the park, which would affect their water supply when liquid manure was used to fertilize crops.

Prevost's family was even affected back in the 1990s. "My son actually got E.coli poisoning when he was little but we couldn't prove where it came from," she said.

She pointed that when the park was built in the late sixties it was on the edge of swamp land and tons of landfill was brought in to make the property suitable for living on.

There were originally two wells; an artesian one and the one they're currently using. Water from the two wells were mixed together and Prevost said it was decent water.

That being said, she claims she hasn't drank the water there since 1985, relying on water from work and family members to get by.

She doesn't even trust the park's water for some of her laundry needs.

"When I first moved in I ruined beautiful blouses," Prevost said, "Now I don't wash any good clothes at all."

Moving out isn't really a viable option for Prevost at this point either. She pays around $400 a month in lot fees and supports her husband who is on disability.

"Where can you live for this amount of money?" she asked, before pointing out some of the endearing qualities of the park, "There are nice trees and animals and birds and our lots are a nice size."

The trailer she currently lives in is an older model that wouldn't fare too well if her family attempted to move it to another park too.

Prevost referenced some other residents who are having trouble selling their property too.

She told of a lady who had her trailer up for sale this past winter but couldn't sell it because there was issues with the water.

"Three potential buyers couldn't get their mortgage approved," Prevost said. "Canada Mortgage and Housing wouldn't approve it and cancelled it because of the water issue."

She's seen much worse landlords than Killam Properties, calling some of them slumlords. However, she would still like to see more from them for a crucial issue like this. She said she gets the feeling that Killam just looks at its residents as units and dollars per month.

"They don't see us as people," she said, "Just income."

Ontario MPP for Nepean-Carleton Lisa MacLeod said that she had "been made aware of the situation eleven years ago." MacLeod has been active in the negotiation process, and to find a viable solution to Lynnwood Gardens water troubles. MacLeod added that there has been work done by "local elected officials to fix the situation, but it always seems to fall on deaf ears with Killam Properties."

Killam Properties, who owns and manages the community of "manufactured homes", has been approached with alternative solutions that would bring safe clean drinking water into the homes located on the 54-acre property.

MacLeod said that "over the years we have explored different options to access potable water, [that is] aesthetically pleasing" for the community. MacLeod explained that Killam had been presented with a plan to connect Lynnwood to the "Carlsbad Trickle Feed System, and that was ruled out." The property owners were finally presented with a plan to bring water to the community through the "Russell Pipeline, that runs through the City of Ottawa and that was really a non-starter" MacLeod said.

MacLeod has visited the the community on several occasions and has been inside some of the homes. "The sodium content is so high in the water, [that] the taps corrode very easily" MacLeod said. The community's water situations has implications on doing the laundry, "anybody who washes a white shirt, will find that the shirt will come out yellow" from the water MacLeod added.

According to the MPP "it's a sad situation, many of the folks that live there, are there because its affordable housing." MacLeod said "We would expect [Killam Properties] to do the right thing, they just have not done that to date."

There really isn't much more that can be done to entice Killam to bring clean water into the community. MacLeod underlines that officials are "constrained given the property rights available to the landowner."

As long as Killam provides bottled water they are compliant with regulations. Part III of the Safe Drinking Water Act states "that all water provided by the system to the point where the system is connected to a user's plumbing system meets the requirements of the prescribed drinking water quality standards." As an alternative, a minimum requirement is to "provide the users with access to a supply of drinking water for daily human consumption and food preparation purposes."

MacLeod added, now "it is really up to people being vocal about this so that Killam Properties will come to the table with a viable solution that will bring water into that park."

An Ottawa Public Health Spokesperson was able to confirm some of the recent advisories that have been placed on Lynnwood Gardens in an email.

"Ottawa Public Health (OPH) was advised by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) of health-related water quality issues that prompted the issuance of a "Do Not Drink" Advisory to residents of Lynnwood Gardens Mobile Home Park, a private well system, on June 22, 2016.

OPH issued this advisory as a result of elevated arsenic levels found in the water supply at Lynnwood. This advisory remains in place to this date (April 5, 2017). More recently—following work done by the owners of the system—arsenic levels are now acceptable for drinking, however levels of trihalomethanes and sodium now exceed the Ontario Drinking Water Objectives and hence, the "Do Not Drink" Advisory is still in effect.

OPH has provided two updates to the users of this system on the water quality, to remind them not to drink their tap water, and provide advice on how their tap water can be used. These notices were hand delivered in August 2016 and again this March 2017 by Public Health Inspectors.

OPH continues to work with the MOECC and the park owners to ensure residents are aware of the water quality issues, and answer any health-related questions residents may have. The MOECC is working with the owners of the system to bring it into compliance with relevant legislation. As this work continues and until OPH rescinds the "Do Not Drink" Advisory, the owners of the system are providing residents with bottled water."

Pamela Crowell, Vice President of Tennant Experience and MHC Management for Killam Properties said that the "Poor water quality in this area is a natural condition in the bedrock aquifer that affects a large portion of the eastern part of Ottawa and beyond."

Crowell added that "groundwater is characterized as highly mineralized, with naturally occurring high concentrations of iron, manganese, sodium, sulfate and chloride." The combination of these minerals has presented "significant treatment challenges", Crowell said.

The Do Not Drink Advisory that was issued in June 2016 for high levels of arsenic was "followed by a subsequent elevation in the levels of trihalomethanes (THMs)." Crowell informed us that the company's engineers felt that it "THMs themselves are not typically difficult to treat, however, we needed to address the root cause." At the time of the rise in THMs there was no known source for the compound.

Health Canada defines THMs as "group of compounds that can form when the chlorine used to disinfect drinking water reacts with naturally occurring organic matter." The most common form of THMs in drinking water is are "chloroform, bromodichloromethane (BDCM), dibromochloromethane (DBCM) and bromoform." Chloroform is possibly carcinogenic in humans and "animal studies have shown links between exposure to specific trihalomethanes and liver and kidney tumours" in mice and rats.

Killam Properties purchased Lynnwood Gardens in 2005 and Crowell suggested that the water was "treated, tested, and useable - the situation that occurred in June is new." Crowell confirmed that residents have been receiving between one and five 18 litre bottles of water a week.

Crowell said that the source THMs has been found and that "new water treatment equipment [has been] designed and will be installed to provide water of a higher and clearer quality." These plans include a new building, filtration, contact pipe, and pressure tanks. The reason Crowell gave for the long process "is the complex nature of the design of the plant and the approvals process through various levels of government."

Until the new system is installed, residents will have to rely on the bottled water that they have been receiving.

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