PORT HOOD: The already down-on-its-luck water and waste water system in Inverness County was done no favours by the category 2 hurricane that recently rolled through the area.

Lengthy power outages that started for most communities on September 7 (and which lasted for almost a week for some) impacted water treatment facilities and the production wells across the municipality.

Keith MacDonald, the Chief Administrative Officer for the Municipality of the County of Inverness, detailed the extent of the damage to The Reporter.

“Outages in Cheticamp were minimal, so there was no impact on the production well there,” he said. “But the other communities, once the power went off, the water treatment facilities and the production wells were no longer able to operate. Each community was relying on a water reservoir for provision of water to their particular community.”

Each reservoir has a certain volume, so each community had a varying duration of supply to that community, generally between two to four days of water. Both Mabou and Whycocomagh ran out of water due to reservoirs being emptied.

Water levels in Judique, Inverness and Port Hood were significantly decreased. Port Hood was on a conservation order prior to the hurricane’s arrival.

“We had to address each of those communities with limited water supply by providing comfort centers and water for those in need,” MacDonald said. “We worked with the various fire departments in those communities. People could stop by and have a hot meal, charge their communication devices, and stock up on water.

“People throughout Inverness County demonstrated how much they care and support their neighbours.”

Water levels in the various reservoirs are recovering, the CAO said, and added that over the next few weeks, the water supplies will be back up to full capacity.

In Port Hood, the municipality is working to finalize a new water production well that will significantly increase the amount of water produced on a daily basis for that community.

“Our goal is to have that project commissioned by the end of this month,” he said.

For the time being, those on the Port Hood water system are under a strict conservation effort. Residents are urged to refrain from washing vehicles, boats, houses; refrain from baths or long showers; rely on bottled water for tooth brushing and consumption; and to avoid washing clothes and using dishwashers.

Free jugs of water are available at the Port Hood Co-op, Inverness Co-op, and Judique Fire Hall.

Those not complying with the directives may have their water service suspended. The charges for re-establishing water service would be the responsibility of the customer, not the municipality.

Water is currently being trucked into the community to help increase the amount of water held at the reservoir.

“It was a significant weather event,” MacDonald said. “As everyone knows, with climate change more events like this are to be expected, so municipalities will have to look at measures to be better prepared and respond to these type of occurrences.

“The municipality will have to look at various ways to maintain power to various infrastructure components during weather events like this and better support residents in need.”

The CAO pointed out this year’s capital budget includes $250,000 for generators to support various water treatment facilities.