BLACK DUCK COVE, NL – At 10 homes in Black Duck Cove, a defective waterline is making basic access to running water increasingly difficult.
Black Duck Cove resident and local service district chair Mille Dredge say the waterline, which was originally put in place in 1982, has been a growing problem for the past few years.
“Each year the line gets worse and each year the people get older,” she said.
“It’s become a disaster for Black Duck Cove.”
The waterline provides running water for 10 homes occupied by seniors. When they have dealt with periods of lost access to water in the past, residents often shut the water off and tried to fix the line themselves.
But as the waterline issues have become more frequent, Dredge reached out to the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment last year in hopes of bringing in a new waterline with an insulated box around it.
Thus far, efforts to secure funding for the end of this year have been unsuccessful.
In the spring, they applied for $35,000 from emergency funds from the department. Dredge says the community had to pitch in roughly $6,000 of those funds to get the go-ahead for the project.
“Each home came up with their $645-share,” Dredge said. “It’s all senior citizens in these homes, but we wanted it so bad we all put the money up front.”
But after submitting their required portion of the funding, their application was not approved.
Dredge says she was told by the department to reach out to an engineer to assess the waterline and then apply for a new application for funding under the municipal infrastructure application.
The Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment said in an emailed response that Black Duck Cove was not approved for the funding, as the request was not consistent with guidelines under the Water Resources Act.
Through discussions with Dredge, the department recommended she speak with a consultant to further assess the waterline and submit another application.
Dredge says the costs needed to bring in a consultant to dig out the waterline and give it a full assessment could reach as much as $200,000. For the 10 homes in Black Duck Cove, it is not a feasible amount.
“Where are we going to come up with the money to bring in a loader to dig up the line and have an engineer look into it?” Dredge said. “It’s getting to the point where, do we want to have running water or do we want to have heat and food?”
Dredge feels the age and small size of the community are playing a role in the lack of government support for fixing the line.
“They turned us down for funding right away, and I think it’s because we’re all senior citizens so to them it don’t make much difference,” she said.
With cold weather well on its way, Dredge expects the waterline to freeze up for much of the winter and add an additional strain to the area.
Area MHA Chris Mitchelmore says he understands the community’s grievance, but with these issues no corners can be cut. The Water Resources Act guidelines have to be met before any application can be approved. Mitchelmore says he is willing to work with Black Duck Cove’s local service district and offer whatever guidance and help he can to bring about a future municipal infrastructure application for the waterline.