Pipe fixed, but boil water advisory still in effect for Ahousaht, B.C.
Water system must be tested before water advisory can be lifted, First Nation says
by Megan Thomas, originally posted on December 21, 2016
A broken pipe that cut off drinking water in the community of Ahousaht, B.C., has now been repaired, but a boil water advisory will likely remain in effect for a few more days until the water system can be fully tested.
A crew has been working around the clock since the pipe in the remote community on Vancouver Island’s west coast sprung a leak late Friday.
Water was initially cut off entirely to homes in the community of nearly 1,000 people. A bypass was put in place over the weekend to get water flowing again, but it was untreated and had to be boiled.
The broken pipe was successfully repaired Wednesday afternoon during a low tide, said Rob Bullock, executive director for the Ahousaht First Nation.
A small army of volunteers also came together to help place sandbags around the area to keep sea water out.
“The Ahousaht community has always come together,” Bullock said.
Even though the broken water pipe has now been repaired, it will still likely be a few more days until the tap water is safe for drinking.
Ahousaht is working with health officials, including the First Nations Health Authority, to test the system, Bullock said. Residents will be notified when the boil water advisory has been lifted.
In the meantime, there is no shortage of bottled water in Ahousaht, thanks in large part to the quick actions of other Vancouver Island communities that stepped up to gather donations.
Bottles of water, driven from as far away as Port Alberni, were loaded on boats in Tofino for transport to Ahousaht, which is only accessible by boat or by air.
“It was a colossal effort from every angle,” said Les Doiron, elected president of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet) First Nation.
The time it took to repair the pipe is not surprising, given the extra challenges of making infrastructure repairs in remote communities, Doiron said.
“There’s no hardware store per say in Ahousaht, so you don’t just go and pick up your stuff that you need and it’s said and done,” he said. “You need to bring everything in with you.”
Ahousaht is thankful for the help, which made a difficult situation easier, Bullock said.
“It’s been a real testament to the human condition.”