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16th September 2016
Nova Scotia fights drought with bottled water, school showers

Published September 15, 2016 - 6:24pm
Last Updated September 16, 2016 - 6:55am

Southwestern Nova Scotia is so parched that people have resorted to showering at schools and keeping water in fish boxes to flush toilets.

Local municipalities in Shelburne and Yarmouth counties and the Emergency Measures Organization are working to make free water available for drinking, washing and basic household needs.

The Municipality of Barrington reports as many as 200 residents have called to say they have no water.

Local fire departments are filling up fish boxes to flush toilets and the municipality has set up four washing machines on drilled-well sites.

Tri-County School Board Director of Operations, Steve Stoddart, said he has water in Barrington but many of his neighbours don’t.

He confirmed some schools will also be open before and after regular hours so the public can use shower facilities.

In Argyle, three schools — École Belleville, École Pubnico-Ouest, and École Par-en-Bas will be open.

Ten minutes away from Par-en-Bas is P-12 Drumlin Heights, but Stoddart said it won’t be open until next week.

“It’s hard to judge how long this will go on for, but we’re finalizing details for school security procedures.”

He told the Chronicle Herald they expect to offer the public the facilities at the only English school in Argyle on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“We don’t expect a large number of people given the access they will have to other facilities nearby,” he said.

Retail giant Sobeys is delivering five tractor trailer loads of Big 8 bottled water to the area.

According to a release sent by the grocery giant based in Stellarton, Connors Transfer Ltd. is delivering 107,500 litres of water that will be distributed by EMO.

Meanwhile, an Environment Canada climatologist is warning that this dry spell is just a “dress rehearsal” for the kind of weather conditions Canada can expect in the years to come.

“It’s not your grandparent’s weather anymore. It’s a new weather and weird, wild and wacky,” said EC’s David Phillps.

According to their records, this is the first time Nova Scotia has experienced this kind of a dry spell.

Some parts of the region went without rain for over a month this summer.

“We need rain,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill after a cabinet meeting in Halifax. “In order to fix the situation, we need about half a foot of rain to bring the water table up to a place where these wells will be able to hold water.”

Rain isn’t in the forecast for weeks there, said Churchill.

Extremely dry conditions are also creating water shortages in other parts of the province.

There are reports of dwindling supplies in Chester and even as far east as Guysborough County.

The Town of Windsor has issued a mandatory water conservation advisory for residents, businesses and customers of the Windsor, Three Mile Plains and Wentworth water utilities until further notice.

Environment Canada says that the Halifax area is receiving two-thirds of the precipitation it usually gets.

In addition to purchasing water, EMO is working with the Red Cross and Retail Council of Canada to arrange for water to be donated to residents through their networks of stores, volunteers, emergency comfort stations and fire departments in the region.