‘We don’t have a drop’: Howley’s temporary water line fails as state of emergency continues – Newfoundland & Labrador

The western Newfoundland town of Howley had some relief from its water supply problems early Wednesday morning, but taps have again run dry in the community.

The area is still under a state of emergency after the water supply intake from nearby Sandy Lake started running dry early Monday, cutting residents off from access to fresh water from their taps.

Mayor Wayne Bennett has been working with town workers and outside contractors to figure out what is blocking water from getting to the pumphouse from Sandy Lake. Weather conditions on Tuesday hampered efforts to hoist the intake from the bottom of the lake.

Howley water pump hose emergency

A temporary pump and four-inch bypass hose was installed in the Howley pumphouse early Wednesday morning to provide some temporary relief to the area’s water emergency. (Submitted by Wayne Bennett)

With no solution in place Tuesday night, the town got to work setting up a temporary pump and four-inch bypass hose, which required punching a hole through the side of the pumphouse building.

There was some water going to the pumphouse tank from the temporary bypass line for several hours, allowing residents limited water use for flushing toilets; however, by 7:30 a.m. the water again stopped flowing in the temporary line.

Fire protection concerns

That means that in addition to solving the problem with the main intake, workers are now also spending Wednesday morning trying to figure out what is blocking the temporary bypass. Bennett said it’s important to get that line running again as soon as possible to ensure the fire department can access water in case of a fire.

“We don’t know if we have a block in our line or air in our line. Everything we had in our tank we lost,” he told the Corner Brook Morning Show. “We don’t have a drop.”

Howley pumphouse hose line emergency

A sledgehammer was used to make a hole in the side of the Howley pumphouse building so that the temporary water intake hose could be installed. (Submitted by Wayne Bennett)

Workers were set up on the ice of Sandy Lake in the dark Tuesday night, and scuba divers had been going in the water to assess the situation. But according to Bennett, the ice isn’t thick enough to mount hoisting equipment, so a barge and flat-bottom boat are en route for around 10 a.m. Wednesday to help lift the intake off the bottom of the lake.

The town suspects a valve in the intake pipe on the bottom of Sandy Lake may have seized tight, blocking water from making it to the pumphouse.

The town is also working to ensure its residents, many of whom are seniors, are taken care of by delivering buckets of water, and a warming centre is being set up.

To complicate the issue, Bennett said a fuse blew in the pumphouse control panel early Wednesday morning, which required a call to a technician with the manufacturer who walked the town through the process of fixing it.

“It keeps us on our toes, even though they’re frozen,” Bennett joked.

No Conspiracy Here