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Poor water pressure irks Dennis Road residents

Maximum available water pressure in the kitchen of a home on Dennis’ Road in Port aux Basques last week. – © Rene J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter PORT AUX BASQUES — Residents in the Dennis Road area are tired of experiencing low levels of water pressure during certain times of the day, making it impossible to perform tasks that other parts of the town take for granted, such as doing laundry and having a shower at the same time. Derick Stone, who has lived on Dennis’ Road for the past four years, said that he has experienced frequent bouts of low water pressure that has gotten progressively worse during that time. “It’s never been great, but it’s getting worse now, and with all the new homes that’s being developed there due to (Hurricane) Fiona, the pressure is getting worse,” said Stone. “And they’re putting a new subdivision in behind here, too, a new street, so that’s going to affect it more.” The need for a pressure pump is something he’s spoken with the town about directly. “The town is telling us that they got funding to put some kind of pressure pump or pump house around here somewhere to increase our pressure, but this been ever since the spring,” said Stone. “We’ve been calling them, and he (Town Manager Leon MacIsaac) says, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re just trying to figure out where and when,’ and now we’re in October, and it’s not even started.” On Oct. 2, Stone experienced another huge drop in water pressure. “I was outside, and I was using the garden hose, and Madonna, my wife, she turned on the kitchen taps, and when I turned on the garden hose, it stopped in the house,” said Stone. “It took enough water that she had nothing,. She had nothing upstairs. We don’t have baths, well, because obviously, the water would be cold before we could even get in it. I’d say I only had two baths since I’ve been here in over four years.” The only time there’s enough water pressure is when no one else in the subdivision is at their home and using water. “Everybody’s gone to work this morning, so it’s not as bad, and we got some people that’s putting pressure pumps in their houses, but that’s not helping the ones that don’t,” said Stone. “And we’re paying almost $3,000 in property tax a year. I don’t see why I’d have to go buy my own pressure pump, and if everybody starts doing it, where are you going to get the water to feed these pressure pumps?” Lloyd Savery is a new resident to the area and he noticed the low water pressure immediately. “I was down in Channel, down at the bottom of hill, and I had lots of water pressure,” said Savery. “And then I come up here and it’s unreal.” Just filling a five to eight litre bucket takes a long time. “I don’t know what time I filled it, but it takes about eight to ten minutes to fill that up at certain times of the day,” said Savery. The Savery family changed its water usage in order to combat the low pressure. “If one person is having a shower — and we’ve got two bathrooms — if one’s having a shower, the other one, we don’t bother trying to have a shower with the other one going at the same time,” said Savery. As nice as a pressure pump would be, Savery said it’s not something he thinks himself or other residents should have to pay extra for. “With the town taxes they are charging us up here on the hill, I don’t see why I should have to go and spend $1,000 or a couple thousand dollars on a pump when I’m paying almost $3,000 in property taxes,” said Savery. He knows his next-door neighbour is having the same issues with water pressure, and another resident is planning on submitting their own letter to the Town Council. “She’s writing a letter put into the town today to be read at a meeting tonight because, while she’s up there doing her watering, her garden hose would quit with next to nothing coming out, and she’s trying to get the new grass that they put down to grow,” said Savery. “I actually think that’s when we lost our water upstairs in the house, she was watering her lawn, trying to, and I turned on my garden hose and Madonna was trying to do dishes, and the water just stopped.” Savery hopes something is done about it soon. “The understanding I had was that there was money in place to put the pump down on the hill there. I don’t know why. Maybe Fiona damages they were doing took away from other work on the town, and that’s fine, but up here in the winter, when all those houses finally get on the line, then it’s going to be really bad,” said Savery. “Especially if you decide to put in a pump and cover those houses. We’re not going to stand a chance.” Town Manager Leon MacIsaac said the town’s water system is a gravity-based water treatment system, and the pressure should remain constant and not drop. “The water treatment plant is in off the axis road off Route 470. The water from that plant flows out into the town, enters the town at High Street right back by the transfer shed area. That area there comes underneath the highway, comes up onto High Street and then disperses in two directions downtown and all points west,” explained MacIsaac. “So it builds up, pressure coming in, loses pressure, of course, but it’s got quite a steep climb. Then it gains pressure again as it travels downstream, both directions. It’s gravity based, not pumped at that point in time, and it’s not until it gets to Grand Bay West that it enters our pumping system which is nearly adjacent to the new Marine Atlantic building.” The new homes that are being constructed up in the Dennis’ Road area and the new side street that has yet to be named, won’t affect the current water pressure. “Anything up there, the pressure would be feeding from Dennis’s Road down and from Taverner Drive, so the pressure would remain constant in the area. It won’t drop, it won’t rise and it’ll stay constant,” said MacIsaac. For the residents who are experiencing this problem, he added that the additional couple of added houses would not affect their pressure in that regard. “In that area there is a feeder line that comes up Dennis’s Road from the Doyle’s transport side. It comes up that way and also comes up through Taverner and Smallwood on that regard,” said MacIsaac. “So at the very bottom of the hill, where Taverner comes off Grand Bay West Road, the pressure there is approximately 67 PSI, which is fairly high. You’re getting it to the point where you require pressure reducing valves on homes at that point, and as it climbs up the hill, you’ve got a fairly long distance, and it’s got a 35 metre difference in elevation. So you get static pressure loss over every meter of climb. Now we have a consultant that’s just been awarded a new contract for the Dennis Road water booster station, which was applied for a couple of years ago. The contract was only just recently awarded by the province and the consultants are All North Consultants.” Combating the low pressure for residents higher up on the hill will mean the installation of a water booster station on the Doyle’s transfer side. “When you increase pressure, an individual home can only handle so much pressure. Then you’ve got to put on a pressure-reducing valve,” said MacIsaac. “So going on that side versus the other side, there’s far less residences that would be required to put in pressure reducing valve. I think it may be 12 to 20 versus 200 on the opposite side. So coming out of that side, you reduce the pressure to the homes that each have a pressure reducing valve, and then that high level of pressure maintains on top of the hill so that everybody’s pressure remains constant at all times.” The process is underway to get the water booster station installed. “Right now they’re compiling drawings, getting information on the area. There’s a lot of information that it’s going to take. You have to start from the bottom hill, work your way up,” said MacIsaac. “All valves have got to be checked, to make sure they’re working properly as well to make sure that the correct flow water is going through the system and that there’s no partially shut, partially open valves, and at the end of the day, they’ll determine what kind of pressure is going to be required to get constant pressure at top of the hill.” Thankfully the lower water pressure in the area is still well within parameters for firefighting efforts if a problem were to arise requiring those services. “The National Fire Protection Association requires a minimum of 20 PSI at a fire hydrant, which it has,” said MacIsaac. “That and above, so there is no risk of fire department not being able to fight fires as a result of that. That is the minimum pressure, and people can go into the National Fire Protection Association website and find that information themselves.”

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