Robert’s Arm running out of water
Reservoir did not replenish after dam work this summer
Town staff, the fire department and other volunteers have been battling to keep the water flowing in Robert’s Arm.
The central Newfoundland town’s water supply has reached critically low levels, causing municipal leaders to declare a state of emergency Monday, Oct. 15.
According to Mayor Lori Miller, the town’s water woes started back in June, after they replaced the old dam at Water Pond, it’s water source. For the work to be carried out, she said, the pond had to be drained and dry summer conditions slowed replenishment of the reservoir.
When the state of emergency was declared, water levels were at one-foot, six-inches. The new damn is seven-and-a-half feet in height.
To raise levels, the volunteers have been pumping water from a nearby pond for up to 12 hours per day, and through the use of two pumps, adding 1,000 gallons per minute to the pond. With a population of 805 – according to the 2016 census – residents are also being called on to conserve water until levels can be replenished.
With heavy rain falling, as she spoke with The Central Voice Oct. 16, Miller said things were looking positive.
“With all this rain and two pumps transferring water, hopefully it will bring the levels back up,” she said, adding, the volunteers have done a tremendous job at manning the pumps.
The goal is to raise the water level to the top of the dam.
With winter bearing down on Newfoundland and Labrador, Miller hopes it something that can happen sooner rather than later, as transferring water from frozen ponds presents more of a challenge.
“We’re hoping that over the next week or so we can get the levels up to a point where we can relax a little more and won’t have to be pumping throughout the winter,” she said. Providing coverage
Fire Chief Carl Ryan has been involved with the fire department for the past 36 years and he’s never seen water levels at such a critical level.
“Robert’s Arm is in dire straits no doubt about it,” he said, adding the fire department will continue to pump water into the reservoir.
While the water supply is low, Ryan says alternate planning will see fire protection services remain in place.
Instead of using hydrants, in the event of a fire, the department has borrowed a large portable water tank from Triton’s fire department, and would shuttle pumpers, as the town has a mutual aid agreement with seven other communities in Green Bay South, from a nearby water source.
“If we need resources, we know who to call,” he said.
And if need be, the hydrants are still in place.
“That would be the last resort,” Ryan said. “If we had to, if there was somebody’s life was on the line, then I guess we would until we got the portable tank in place.”