Fat black ants crawl along the backsplash in Joan Snyder’s kitchen, attracted to the unwashed dishes piled on the counter and in the sink because there’s no water available to wash them.
The few dribbles that come pouring out of a fully-opened kitchen faucet confirms Snyder’s story – one shared by about seven of her neighbours who sitting in her living room, wanting to convey the frustration residents of Cedar Ridge Mobile Home Park have been living with for weeks.
“We have no water at all. We don’t have anything to wash dishes, give the cat, now, as we’re getting into the garden season, we’ve got nothing for our gardens, which I live on for all the summer and it helps me out throughout the winter,” says Snyder, noting there have been issues with the water in the park since she moved in seven years ago.
“We’ve been on a boil-water advisory since we moved in here,” says Doug Desjardins, Snyder’s partner. “Now, for the last three months, we’ve had water intermittently, meaning, you never know when you turn your tap on, you might have water, you might not. So you can’t start the washer, you can’t use the dishwasher, you never know if you can flush your toilet, you never know if you take a shower, half way through you’ve got no water.”
Neighbour Debbie Anderson says she has health issues and has been without water for two months.
“For the past two months I have not had more than a dribble come out of my tap. Today, I can’t flush my toilet,” said Anderson.
Everyone in the room has a similar story, and everyone’s story includes complaints about inaction on the part of the property’s manager to rectify the problem.
Cedar Ridge is managed by Edmonton-based Century 21 realtor Tim Hennigar, who empathizes with the residents’ frustration.
Hennigar says the park on Sicamous-Solsqua Road was purchased in 2007 and, shortly after, water turbidity standards changed, putting the existing water system out of compliance, resulting in the ongoing boil-water advisory.
After that, says Henniger, the well that supplies water to the park began to have “water-quantity problems.” He explained the well is on a private property on the other side of Sicamous-Solsqua Road.
“The water line runs up past a couple of acreages to our park, so we have an easement in place, that we would essentially own the well, but provide everyone on the easement with water,” said Henniger.
Interior Health eventually stepped in and issued notice to do something about the water- quality issues, and Henniger says steps were taken to see what filtration system would be best suited.
“In exploring our options, we were also told by Interior Health that not only did we have to provide chlorinated water… to our tenants, we also had to provide it to everybody on our easement,” sad Henniger. “We didn’t have a problem with that; however… the problem with that is that our well was giving us problems.”
Henniger says the park had issues with sporadic water for some time, so a new well was drilled in late 2010. But that well has since been problematic. Now the desire is to drill a new well, and Henniger says he has already been approved by Interior Health to “fast-track the system, and get a new well put in place.” But, he adds, IH engineering requirements, combined their wanting all current users on the new system, is creating a headache.
“We have no problem supplying them with water, just don’t make us responsible for their chlorination and re-running pipelines all the way back down the hill, under the road and to the guy at the bottom, who is adamant he’s not going to contribute a nickel to this thing,” says Henniger.
Interior Health health protection team leader Mike Adams says that while owners of the water system have been asked to come up with a plan to improve the water system, if someone wants to opt out and go their own way, there’s nothing stopping them.
“If the guy at the mobile home park says, you know what, I’m done waiting for something to happen, I’m going to drill a well and put the mobile home park on a well and fix the issue and take care of my property, there’s nothing stopping him from doing that,” says Adams.
Days after the News met with residents of the mobile park, an IH health officer was at the site and met with the owner “and their consultants,” and Adams confirmed options are being looked at to provide clean, potable water to residents.
“We want to insure that we’re not just going out there willy nilly and drilling a well and maybe plunking it in the wrong location,” said Adams. “There’s kind of two separate issues going on there right now. One, we’ve got an existing water system that needs improvements… The second issue is the mobile home park who happens to be one of the owners who is being impacted, and are looking at their options.”