A month has now passed since a boil-water advisory was first issued for Hay River, the Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Kakisa, and Enterprise.
The advisory, issued on May 13, remains in place. While such advisories are annual events in the region, Hay River’s mayor acknowledged they don’t usually last this long.
Kandis Jameson said there had been advisories lasting several weeks in the past. She said the current advisory had come close to being lifted on several occasions but, just as those decisions were about to be taken, “no, turbidity levels go up.”
Turbidity is a measurement of how clear water appears based on how many tiny particles are suspended in it. It’s often used as a simple gauge of water quality – the clearer, of course, the better.
River ice breakup each spring can have a big impact on turbidity.
Some Hay River residents have expressed concern at the length of this year’s boil-water advisory.
“I have lived in this town for over 50 years and have never seen the water this bad,” one resident told Cabin Radio by email. “Residents are paying full price for water they can’t drink and are forced to buy bottled water.”
Jameson says a scheduled inspection of the town water line will take place in August, though she understands the turbidity has been caused by the sheer volume of water moving down the Hay River at a fast rate.
The mayor said another factor is wind direction.
“It’s been miserable here, so obviously it’s coming off that lake and the ice was right into the shore a couple of days ago,” she said.
“We can only mitigate so much … you can’t control Mother Nature.”
On Tuesday, town public works director Mike Auge said Hay River was “as close as we’ve been yet” to seeing turbidity levels low enough for the advisory to be lifted. However, by Saturday, there had been no such announcement.
“After we do reach those levels, it will take another approximately 36 hours to flush out the water that’s in the system before we request that the advisory gets lifted,” Auge said at a council meeting.
“We’re hoping it can get finished by this weekend but it depends on factors outside our control.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Ollie Williams contributed reporting.