West Nipissing’s council is turning off the water tap outside Verner’s arena, and are considering doing the same for a tap in Goulard Park in Sturgeon Falls.
The recommendation came from West Nipissing’s chief administrative officer, Jay Barbeau, during a June 22 council meeting.
Citizens have recently approached Barbeau, “quite upset” that the filling station behind the arena is “not being used for the intent they should be.”
A dumping station for trailers is there as well, and the water is often used to clean holding tanks. Mayor Joanne Savage also noted citizens who “may have a water problem” also use the taps.
See: Verner’s ‘brown water’ cleared up – for now
However, complaints detailed by Barbeau indicate access to free water is enticing some to misuse the resource.
“What they’re seeing are individuals from a variety of different walks of life going to fill with big totes, big containers, truck-size containers of water at the Verner filling station.”
“One woman tracked some individuals,” who recently filled up, Barbeau said, and found them in “unlicensed areas that had a bunch of trailers.”
Councillor Yvon Duhaime shared a similar story, as a resident recently “showed me pictures of a vehicle that was going three times a day to fill up.”
Mayor Savage expressed uncertainty that trailer owners were the primary problem, mentioning she heard stories from residents of “cottage owners coming in with 200-liter tanks.”
Councillor Denis Senecal cautioned against closing the tap “until we have a solution for the residents,” as the stories presented amounted to “hearsay,” adding he has not “seen any signs of abuse.”
Similar misuse is occurring in Goulard Park, in Sturgeon Falls, Barbeau explained.
“The anecdotal information I’m hearing,” Barbeau said, “is that people are promoting the fact they we have free water” for trailers and telling them, “come to Sturgeon and fill up.”
Verner ratepayers, who pay about $1,300 annually for water, are upset people are abusing the taps, Barbeau said.
“There has to be a mechanism to control the usage of the water, and eliminate abuse,” Mayor Savage said.
Options presented include installing a camera at the tap, a timer that would restrict access, or a metering gauge so users will pay for every drop.
Of particular concern was the Verner water tap, as “the Verner water system is a very sensitive system in a variety of ways,” Barbeau said, adding that treatment is costly, and in rare times, during a long drought, some citizens lose access to consistent supply.
Shutting the tap is “temporary,” Barbeau said. “It isn’t necessarily permanent, but until we can find a better solution.”
The Sturgeon Falls tap will remain open. Council plans to discuss permanent solutions at their next meeting in July.
See: $10 million solution for Verner’s brown water problem
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca