Cost-shared fund­ing al­lo­cated for Badger waste­water project

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - EDITORIAL -

Ap­prox­i­mately $230,000 in cost-shared fund­ing be­tween the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and the Town of Badger is be­ing in­vested in a wa­ter and waste­water in­fra­struc­ture project in the com­mu­nity.

Pre­mier Dwight Ball made the an­nounce­ment Sept. 1.

Of the $230,000-in­vest­ment, gov­ern­ment is con­tribut­ing ap­prox­i­mately $187,000 for the wa­ter and waste­water sys­tem, al­lo­cated un­der the Mu­nic­i­pal Cap­i­tal Works pro­gram for mu­nic­i­pal projects.

“Our gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the suc­cess of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and responding to in­fra­struc­ture needs through­out the prov­ince,” Ball stated in a news re­lease.

Ball was joined for the an­nounce­ment at Badger Town Hall by Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ed­die Joyce and Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion, Skills and Labour Min­is­ter Al Hawkins, MHA for Grand Falls-Wind­sor - Buchans.

“I am pleased to see this an­nounce­ment tak­ing place in Badger to­day,” Hawkins stated in the re­lease. “This joint fund­ing will greatly im­prove vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture and will im­prove com­mu­nity life for the res­i­dents of Badger.”

In Bud­get 2017, gov­ern­ment an­nounced $100 mil­lion would be in­vested in a new three-year pro­gram to sup­port devel­op­ment of mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture. In ad­di­tion to Mu­nic­i­pal Cap­i­tal Works pro­gram fund­ing, gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to lever­age fed­eral fund­ing by pro­vid­ing $35 mil­lion over the next two years to al­low an in­vest­ment of $60 mil­lion through the fed­eral Small Com­mu­ni­ties Fund of the New Build­ing Canada Fund.

The findings are stag­ger­ing, says He­witt.

“I think there was roughly 50 sam­ples sent off to New Brunswick to an ac­cred­ited lab,” said He­witt. “There was a high rate of ar­senic lev­els – two lev­els were 1,000 parts per bil­lion. The safe level is 10.”

He­witt says while not ev­ery well was con­tam­i­nated, most tested did show ar­senic in the wa­ter. Sur­face wells are less likely to be con­tam­i­nated. Arte­sian wells, pulling wa­ter from much deeper in the earth, are more prone to ex­po­sure says He­witt.

Of those with pos­i­tive findings, not all were deemed un­safe, but in More­ton’s Har­bour alone He­witt es­ti­mates at least 50 per cent of the wells con­tain un­safe drink­ing wa­ter.

That was four years ago, and the prov­ince has re­sponded – even if the re­sponse has been lim­ited, He­witt says.

A pro­gram was cre­ated un­der the for­mer gov­ern­ment to test, and treat if nec­es­sary, wells on prop­er­ties owned by New­found­land and Labrador Hous­ing, a Crown cor­po­ra­tion. Those prop­er­ties alone re­ceive the ben­e­fit of the pro­gram, says He­witt. In­di­vid­ual home­own­ers and those rent­ing pri­vately owned res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties are on their own.

Test­ing is costly, and treat­ment even more so, but the cost of in­ac­tion can be much higher, He­witt says.

In­or­ganic ar­senic comes in two forms: Ar­senic 3 and Ar­senic 5. Both re­quire dif­fer­ent meth­ods of re­moval. The doc­tor be­lieves more can and should be done.

“I wouldn’t say the (prov­ince) hasn’t done some good work,” said He­witt. “But still there’s the feel­ing it’s the well own­ers’ re­spon­si­bil­ity and the in­for­ma­tion is out there and it’s up to the well owner to avail of it.”

He­witt says as a physi­cian, he looks back and knows he has had pa­tients af­fected by the is­sue. The in­for­ma­tion may be anec­do­tal, he says, but it’s telling in hind­sight.

The cost is hard to mea­sure. “It’s hard to quan­tify how much (ill­ness) it is re­ally caus­ing, I can’t say for sure,” said He­witt. “But it’s out there, and the proof that it is a bad thing is in­dis­putable.”

The is­sue is not iso­lated to New World Is­land. He­witt says there is a swath across the cen­tral re­gion that places it in “very, very high risk.” The en­tire is­land could per­haps ben­e­fit from test­ing of its wa­ter sup­ply, sug­gests He­witt.

“Every­where on the is­land I would say there is po­ten­tial,” said He­witt. “The west coast ge­o­log­i­cally has less chance, but not no chance, and Labrador – so far I don’t think there have been any pos­i­tive tests, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t ex­ist there.”

The Pi­lot has reached out to Ser­vice NL for in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to ar­senic test­ing re­quire­ments in New­found­land and Labrador.

The Pi­lot has also re­quested in­for­ma­tion on any avail­able test­ing and treat­ment pro­grams of­fered to res­i­dents by the prov­ince. The Pi­lot will pro­vide up­dates as more in­for­ma­tion be­comes avail­able.

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