The week-long boil water advisory has been lifted however the state of emergency still remains until Prince Edward County officials are confident contamination in the Picton Bay no longer poses a threat to the drinking water system.
On Thursday, Mayor Robert Quaiff and members of the Emergency Control Group updated residents on the ongoing water situation on the Picton Bay. Since March 24, the group has been on alert since a Pitts Carillion barge docked at Picton Terminals partially sank leaking fuel into the bay. Less than a week later the municipality declared a state of water emergency and eventually shut the Picton/Bloomfield water treatment plant down as it was evident sheen from the spill was too close to the water intake system.
The water treatment plant started up again Wednesday and moments prior to Thursday’s press conference, the Hastings Prince Edward Health Unit lifted the week-long boil water advisory affecting Picton and Bloomfield residents. Prince Edward County has confirmed that water being produced by the Picton Drinking Water Plant and water presently in the Picton/Bloomfield Distribution System meets all Provincial Water Quality Standards. Mayor Quaiff said the municipality will continue a diligent water sampling program until the County is confident that there is no longer a heightened risk of contamination. Also the Prince Edward County Fire Department has removed the County-wide burn ban.
Thanking residents and businesses for their patience throughout the week-long ordeal, Mayor Quaiff said they are waiting for further water tests on the Picton Bay before lifting the water emergency. Quaiff added they anticipate those results will made available early next week.
Mayor Quaiff again thanked neighbouring municipalities along with provincial and federal levels of government for coming to the County’s aid by offering water and completing water testing too. He praised staff who have been working overtime along with water haulers who stepped up and have been transporting water all week to Picton. He also tipped his hat at community members and volunteers who have been bringing lunches and snacks to the water haulers.
While it’s still too early to determine the financial impact of the state of emergency in the County, Chief Administrative Officers said the municipality’s solicitor is developing a strategy on making claims against various people responsible for the incident, along with determining whether the County will apply for emergency funding through the provincial government.
CAO James Hepburn said it’s still too early to reveal the details of Wednesday’s talks with legal counsel but the public will be made aware of any litigation process. He also pointed to legal resources available to businesses that may have suffered a loss in revenue stemming from the advisory He suggested interested parties contact the County for further details on how to go about the process.
He added the County will be mounting a public relations campaign to ensure people know the drinking water is safe adding there should be no reluctance to visit the County.
The County is looking at preventative measures to try and ensure similar incidents like the one that just happened in the Picton Bay don’t occur again.
Mayor Quaiff and Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley pointed to discussions on possibly extending Picton’s water intake further into the Bay or having it pumped from the Wellington water facility.
McAuley explained if they go to another source they will be asking other levels of government to chip in on the move that is estimated to cost around $10 million.
He explained Source Water Protection is one of the key instruments that has been used in detection but also can be used in the future for prevention.
To hear the full press conference click here. FULL PRESS CONFERENCE