White’s Point seeks town water

LITTLE CURRENT—Bill Caesar presented a deputation to council last week on behalf of the residents of White’s Point and the surrounding area regarding the increasing problem that residents are having with their personal water systems and lines due to dropping water levels. Mr. Caesar proposed to council that a municipal water line be run from the town to White’s Point serving approximately 74 homes along the way.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you tonight,” began Mr. Caesar. “The US Army Corps of Engineers has predicted that the water level (in Great Lakes Michigan and Huron) will drop another three inches by the end of February, plus another 12 inches by the end of the summer. The residents of White’s Point asked me to speak on behalf of them, as many are struggling to deal with their water systems.”

Mr. Caesar explained that 74 Northeast Town residents in his area were being directly affected by the dropping water levels and in turn their personal water systems, including 13 residents along Harbour View Road, six along Loon Lane, 13 along Hawberry Lane, and 42 residents on White’s Point.

“We are wondering if there is anything the municipality can do to help our problem?” Mr. Caesar asked. “We are extending our waterlines, in fact I have helped more than a dozen of my neighbours with their waterlines. It’s getting scary for residents, as more and more of their lines are freezing already into the season. If there was a possibility that we could extend the town waterline out to our area, it would greatly benefit a number of residents.”

Mr. Caesar concluded his presentation, asking council if they could look into the possibility to running a town waterline out to the point, the associated costs, and any grants or funding that might be able to assist with the possible project.

“I’m sympathetic,” responded Councillor Marcel Gauthier following the presentation. “I’ve lived out there, so I know what you’re going through. I suspect it’s going to be expensive for you, but we can look into ways to help such as grants.”

“I agree that it’s a good idea to check into what it’s going to cost and I would hope that there is funding to assist you,” said Councillor Paul Skippen. “I know that in Sheguiandah it cost over $6,000.”

“Closer to $7,000 and we were fortunate enough to get funding,” added Councillor Dawn Orr.

Mayor MacNevin agreed with the councillors that spoke, also adding, “I live in the same neck of the woods, so I understand what people are dealing with.”

“If it’s the will of council, we can definitely have our town EDO (economic development officer Kristin Louma) look into funding options and direct staff to look into options.”

The mayor concluded that if funding was not available or it wasn’t an option, that there could be a benefit to residents, including himself, “to pool our resources and learn from each other.”

The Expositor visited White’s Point later in the week to speak with Mr. Caesar, as well as other residents of the point.

“There would be a lot of benefits if we were able to get a water line from town,” said Mr. Caesar. “There are a lot of environmental concerns with residents continuously having to dig trenches, further extending their waterlines. Digging and extending waterlines is a necessity for a number of residents as the water levels continue to decrease, but it has an environmental impact because of the sediments it disturbs, which can cause problems for neighbouring pumps and systems, as well as Strawberry Island’s important wetlands. Town water would also eliminate the need to flush zebra mussels from water lines with bleach, something that some residents have had to resort to.”

Other benefits a town water line to White’s Point would bring would be a worry-free solution to falling water levels, eliminate the need for individuals to build cisterns and truck water, improve safety and effect home insurance by 35 percent, encourage town development, increase the town’s tax base with new buildings and increase real estate values, Mr. Caesar continued.

“And lastly, it sends a message to both the provincial and federal governments that there are advantageous steps that can be taken locally to cushion the effects of low water and that they should be funding them,” said Mr. Caesar.

Mr. Caesar introduced The Expositor to Stella and Jim Strong who live at the end of White’s Point and have also been experiencing problems with their line.

“We started having problems as soon as we pulled the docks in, around the end of last September,” explained Dr. Strong. “We went to see a plumber in Mindemoya in order to learn what we can do to help us get through the winter. He recommended that we keep the waterline’s heat on all the time.”

“We also had to go out and put sandbags on the line to keep it submerged,” added Dr. Strong.

“Your supposed to have 30 inches of water for a water line, but most residents are 20 inches or less along the point,” said Mr. Caesar. “There are a number of people in the area that we have talked to that would be in favour of a town waterline and some people could choose not to if their systems are working for them. But the point is there are a lot of older residents who are unable to deal with their personal water systems themselves or younger couples who simply don’t know what to do.”

“Gerry Timmermans was a leading light back in the day of getting sewer and water for Little Current,” Dr. Strong told The Expositor. “He even had to lobby in Toronto. Now he lives out here and his water line has already frozen and he is 90 so he had to install a cistern and get water brought in. His story is similar to many residents who have had their line freeze this year and it is only going to get worse as the water levels continue to drop.”

Dr. Strong showed The Expositor the area that was once his shoreline and how since the 1960s, it has now receded almost 200 feet.

Seija Deschenes, who also resides on White’s Point with her family, spoke with The Expositor as well.

“We have been lucky in that we are more at the deep end of the point,” explained Ms. Deschenes. “We haven’t had as many problems as many of our neighbours, but the water has really receded badly.”

Ms. Deschenes said that despite their system working well, she and her husband may be interested in hooking up to a town water line if it became an option.

“We like lake water, but if our system experiences problems in the future or if it was something that comes and the majority of the point is interested, we might consider it,” concluded Ms. Deschenes.

Laura Green, another resident of White’s Point, also spoke with The Expositor, explaining that her father had extended their water line three times over the last 10 years, each time extending it by 100 feet.

“We have had problems with the line freezing over the years and not enough snow to insulate the line,” said Ms. Green. “And in the windstorm a while back our foot valve filled with sand. A town water line would be great. It’s been a lot of work for us over the years and for residents who don’t know how to repair their line themselves they have to pay a lot to have someone fix it. Town water would really help solve the problem.”

Town staff is currently looking into the possibility of extending a water line to the area and what grants are available, but Mr. Caesar has said he has already discovered one provincial program that the municipality could apply to.

“I’ve started doing some research on my own, just to see what is out there, and I found a provincial program for municipal infrastructure that is $60 million over the next three years for ‘revitalization of community infrastructure’,” concluded Mr. Caesar.

Robin Burridge