Black Tickle wa­ter plant: Not a cri­sis

Town pro­duc­ing potable wa­ter by grav­ity while await­ing new part


Black Tickle is cur­rently await­ing a part for its wa­ter plant, but in the mean­time, there is no wa­ter short­age, ac­cord­ing to the chair of the lo­cal ser­vice com­mit­tee, Joseph Keefe.

In per­haps no other place in Labrador are the pres­sures of be­ing a re­mote com­mu­nity more acutely felt than in Black Tickle.

With a pop­u­la­tion that has dwin­dled since the demise of the cod fish­ery into the 130 range — of­fi­cially 150 ac­cord­ing to the 2016 cen­sus, but most es­ti­mates have it lower — the com­mu­nity has seen more than its fair share of crises in re­cent years.

In 2012, the fish plant closed, tak­ing with it 70-odd sea­sonal jobs.

In 2015, the wa­ter was so bad it de­stroyed the wa­ter plant’s fil­ter sup­ply and the Red Cross ended up fly­ing in bot­tled wa­ter.

In 2016, the town lost its full-time nurs­ing po­si­tion and Wood­ward’s closed its re­tail gas sta­tion and an­nounced it would no longer be de­liv­er­ing fuel to the town.

In light of those ex­is­ten­tial threats, when the booster pump at the com­mu­nity’s wa­ter plant failed around three weeks ago, the town took it in stride.

“We ran right out first,” Keefe said. “But we changed all the fil­ters and just by chang­ing all the fil­ters it means you could make so much wa­ter just by the pres­sure from the pump house.”

A new booster pump has been or­dered, but Keefe did not know when it would be de­liv­ered be­cause the town’s sup­plier in St. John’s did not have it in stock and had to or­der it from the man­u­fac­turer. In the mean­time there is no cri­sis, he said.

“Any­body that wants wa­ter is get­ting wa­ter,” Keefe said. “We’ve pretty much got enough that we can sup­ply; we’ve got a small amount of cus­tomers any­way.”

The plant is open for a few hours ev­ery day for peo­ple to pick up drink­ing wa­ter at a cost of $2 per three gal­lons. There is also a hose out­side the plant where peo­ple can col­lect wa­ter for wash­ing.

In many ways, liv­ing in Black Tickle is like go­ing back in time. There is no cell phone ser­vice, no high-speed in­ter­net, no road ac­cess and res­i­dents have never had run­ning wa­ter to their homes.

“A few peo­ple have arte­sian wells, but other than that if you want wa­ter you have to go haul it first to put it in your bar­rel and pump it that way,” Keefe said.

It’s part of the ap­peal of stay­ing there, he added.

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