Letter to the editor 1, July 16, 2020
Saint-Lazare is checking whether it can legally impose the same water restrictions on private wells as are presently imposed on water supplied by the town.
Roughly 350 private wells in Saint-Lazare supply about 2,500 people out of the 21,000 population. Everyone dependant on a private well for water is very conscientious about water usage. People with ‘surface wells’ (large diameter pipe, five to eight metres deep) are conscious of water usage 12 months a year as ‘surface wells’ have limited capacity. If a surface well runs dry the only solution is to get a water-tanker in to fill up the pipe. Artesian wells have greater capacity but if an artesian well runs dry, it could mean drilling a new well at $20,000 plus, depending on the depth of the well.
According to Saint-Lazare pumping records, people on town water used 14 per cent more water during the 2020 ‘heat wave’ (May, June) compared with the same period 2019.
Saint-Lazare has a number of inspectors driving round checking for water abusers, plus a security company covering the weekends. So far 100 fines issued at $200 = $20,000 but how much have these inspectors cost, whereas a drone fly-over could easily identify overly watered lawns.
During the COVID-19, ‘stay at home’ period (March, April, May, June) people on town water used 10 per cent more water, compared with the same period in 2019.
Saint-Lazare’s water system is sensitive to 10 –14 per cent increases, which has to be resolved, but getting citizens to inform on their neighbours is not the way to do it.
The recent drought would not contribute to the present water restrictions as surface water takes years, even decades to migrate down to aquifers.
If the town is looking for other causes as to why water restrictions have been imposed, they should consider lobbying the MRC for approval and funding of the three new wells P10, P11 and P12 in La Pinière. In July, 2017 pumping tests were conducted which showed large volumes of water available but these wells are not schedule to be operational for another 12 to 18 months, and could drag on to 24 months, which would put us into 2023 before getting the existing water situation resolved.
Hopefully this year is not when ‘global warming predictions’ of hotter summers and less precipitation start, but Saint-Lazare must prioritize getting P10, P11 and P12 operational.