Birchy Brook wants province to help solve dry well problem

Gary Kean
Published on August 9, 2014

Harold Legge feels a perfect solution exists for the water woes affecting about 15 homes in the village of Birchy Brook.

The problem is finding the money to link those homes to the well in neighbouring Flat Bay West, which is about a kilometre away.

Legge, who chairs the joint committee that runs the two communities, said Birchy Brook has never had water that’s good enough to drink or cook with. Now, the village’s well can’t even produce enough water to wash up with.

It’s not from a lack of effort to address the problem. In an interview Friday, Legge said Birchy Brook installed a brand new water pump and hoses at a cost of nearly $1,500 Thursday.

In addition, they dropped the pump 30 feet deeper so it now reaches some 195 feet into the earth, and 12 feet from the bottom of the well. After trying the new pump for 20 minutes, the well caved in and the flow was reduced to a mere trickle. Legge figures the hot, dry summer has led to the conditions being experienced at the well.

Legge gave the well around eight hours to refill, but the water was barely flowing again 15 minutes after firing the new pump back up.

“This is it for that well,” he said. “We’re going to have to haul the new pump out of it because we’re afraid we might lose it if the well caves in any more.”

The well in Flat Bay West, according to Legge, can produce enough water for Flat Bay West and Birchy Brook, and even Flat Bay East to boot.

“And the best kind of water to drink too,” he added.

Flat Bay West has a backup well too.

The folks affected by the water shortage have been travelling to Flat Bay West to fill up containers to serve their water needs.

Flat Bay West recently got $150,000 in provincial funding to upgrade its well water system. The residents of Birchy Brook have asked the Department of Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs for help, but were still awaiting a response Friday.

“We consider this an emergency, big time,” said Legge. “If they listen to us and give us just a little bit more, Birchy Brook will have good water and it won’t be a shot in the dark looking for new wells.”

The new pump Birchy Brook just bought, he noted, could be used as a great backup for the well in Flat Bay West.

Bernard Sheppard, one of the residents of Birchy Brook, has for years been paying Flat Bay West an annual fee of $150 for the water service that’s not fit to drink. He said it’s frustrating that the money contributed by him and other Birchy Brook residents hasn’t been put back into improving their water quality.

“Now that we have no water, they’re not doing anything for us,” said a frustrated Sheppard, who had only used the muddy well water for flushing the toilet.

Sheppard used to have his own well that gave him clean drinking water, but gave it up hen he connected to the main line fed by the communal well.

He has been buying all of his drinking water ever since and gets water from a nearby spring for cleaning, cooking and laundry.

He — and he believes all of Birchy Brook’s residents — would gladly pay more money if it meant clean drinking water.

“We’re all willing to pay $400 a year for water, but we’re not going to pay if we’re not going to get water we can’t drink,” he said.