I am writing this in glee as the water advisory for Arnprior has been lifted in our area. Let me back up and tell you the story.
Heading out the door on Aug 10 on foot to run an errand, the phone rings but I miss the call. It is our elderly neighbour Rita, so I call her back thinking she has some emergency need. Not at all, she informs me that the Town of Arnprior has just issued a water advisory – no drinking, washing or bathing in municipal provided water. No bathing! I hang up and the phone rings again with Mike on the other side telling me the same thing.
I decide to drive out and pick up some drinking water just in case. Road traffic is unusually heavy for late morning. At GT and Shopper’s they are sold out of H2O. I drive up to Metro – they have dozens of cases still. I pick up 4 and notice others stocking up. Road traffic is even heavier on the way home. I check local social media and the lines are abuzz with panic. There are reports of angry men pushing aside women with baby carriages in their haste to grab drinking water in the stores. People have unknowingly drank and showered after the warning was issued. What’s in the town water?? Go to the hospital if you feel sick! All the restaurants are quickly closed. OMG!! The great Arnprior water riot is on.
We soon find out how much we take drinking water for granted. Marie and I find ourselves accidentally washing our hands or brushing our teeth. We post notes at each sink not to use the water and put bottles in each sink. Go figure! We can’t shower for several days!
Then it all changed. We find out that cases of drinking water are available for free at the central Nick Smith Centre. Volunteers man the stations 24 hrs. You can even call and they will deliver it. Local businesses have donated the water for free. Mayor David Reid is seen helping distribute free water. Neighbours start picking up water for their families and shut in neighbours. People out-of-town offer access to their water well fed shower for free. Random acts of such kindness multiply all over town. The media does a great job of getting the news updates out to people. Everyone is concerned for their neighbours.
The tone on-line changes. My what a great town we live in with responsible leadership and caring neighbours. We are so lucky to live here. Local Canadian community at it’s best. I pick up some water for Rita and call her back to inform her the advisory has just been lifted in our area. She says neighbour Kevin just called her to let her know and that she had already picked up some water herself.
Apparently a wrong valve had been closed in the water distribution system in the course of some water main construction work. Pressure quickly bled off for those houses and businesses connected downstream. This meant groundwater or worse could potentially infiltrate into the town’s water distribution system. Hence the Advisory was issued. Authorities then had to sample at various points to verify water quality was still safe. This took several days. It appears that at least in our area of town, there never was a problem with water quality.
As some one on-line observed – now you know what is like to live with a boil water advisory as some of our indigenous communities have had to – for 11 years! What a great lesson in hardship and hope.