Dry conditions spur MOC to begin water distribution

by Charles Mandel

A drought in the Municipality of Chester (MOC) has spurred MOC's council to approve a district-wide water distribution program. Council said in a release September 4 that it decided to begin the program "in light of the ongoing dry weather and the impact it has had on the quantity and quality of residents' well water."

The program, starting September 4, will provide households experiencing a clean water shortage with four litres of bottled water per person per day up to a maximum of four, four litre jugs per day.

Similar to previous years, the program will be coupon-based with coupons available to MOC residents at these locations and times:

• The Municipal Office, 151 King Street in Chester, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, starting September 4;

• The Municipal Office, 151 King Street in Chester, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Monday, September 9 and Monday, September 16, 2019; and

• New Ross Community School from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Thursday, September 5, Thursday, September 12, and Thursday, September 19, 2019.

Coupons are good for a one-week period (Monday to Sunday), and will expire each Sunday for as long as the program is in place. The municipality will assess the situation again on September 20, 2019 to determine if the program will or will not continue.

After expiration, new coupons can be picked up for the day, week, or as needed. Coupons can be exchanged at select retailers within the municipality for one, four litre jug of water (no substitutes). The municipality is urging only those residents who are in need to access this program so as to reserve supplies for those with little or no water.

Selected retailers are: Independent Grocers in Chester and Hubbards (who will provide Presidents Choice brand), Chester Foodland (who will provide Big 8 brand), Chester Basin Petro-Canada (who will provide Big 8 brand), and Clover Farm in New Ross (who will provide Big 8 brand).

Residents experiencing mobility issues, can call the municipal office at 902-275-3554 to express their permission to have a neighbour or family member collect their coupons on their behalf.

Please continue to visit www.chester.ca or our social media sites for updates.

It's not the first time MOC has experienced drought conditions. In 2018, MOC also enacted a water distribution program.

In 2017, a report on Chester's groundwater supply said shortages were limiting the potential for further development in the village.

The report from CBCL Limited said: "The introduction of central water would substantially improve the consistency, quality, and access to water for many residents of the Village, with improved monitoring and source water protection."

CBCL also conducted a homeowner survey and found that 23 per cent of those who had wells, or 73 out of 317 respondents, said they had a shortage during the 2016 drought - 10 of these homes had drilled wells and 63 had dug wells or cisterns.

About 24 per cent said they required additional water and 18 respondents said their primary source for water was trucked in.

However, after much debate, the proposal for a central water supply was rejected in 2019 over the anticipated cost of the project.

Existing climate models suggest the rate and frequency of extreme weather events is increasing in Nova Scotia, the CBCL report said, meaning droughts, like the ones in 2018 and this year, will likely be repeated.

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