Robert’s Arm run­ning out of wa­ter

Reser­voir did not re­plen­ish af­ter dam work this sum­mer

The Central Voice - - News - BY ADAM RAN­DELL Adam.ran­dell@the­cen­tralvoice.ca

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.”

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