Residents affected by Grand Lake, N.S. contamination awaiting answers
While the East Hants Aquatic Centre has been technically closed due to the pandemic, it’s been busy lately as the supply point for residents in the area who need clean water because of the unidentified contamination at Grand Lake, N.S.
Enfield, N.S. resident Robert MacKenzie is one of the people affected by the advisory not to use water drawn from Grand Lake
He just wants to know what’s going on with the water at Grand Lake.
“It’s troubling,” he says. “The fact that nobody is talking is frustrating. I have to come here to pick up water to wash my dishes, put water in the dog’s bowl, we’re bathing in the sink.”
He and his wife just moved into their lakefront property last August. Now they can’t even go in the water.
“We were so excited to have our first summer on the lake,” he adds.
“And I get erring on the side of caution,” he says. “But you need to let us know what’s going on.”
The province issued an emergency alert early Thursday morning, followed by an advisory, telling people to stay off the lake and avoid consuming any of the water. The Department of Environment says pets should also be kept out of Grand Lake.
The move came after two dogs died, and a woman was sent to hospital, after coming in contact with the lake water in Oakfield, N.S.
Rapid water samples taken last week were inconclusive. The department says visual inspections suggest the presence of a blue-green algae bloom, which can release toxins.
But one Nova Scotia algae researcher isn’t convinced that’s the cause.
In an email to CTV News, Tri Nguyen-Quang of Dalhousie University’s Biofluids and Biosystems Modeling Lab says he took water samples from Grand Lake and nearby Fish Lake late Friday afternoon, and found “there was no presence of cyanotoxins in the water sample.”
Those toxins are normally created by the exponential cyanobacteria growth characteristic of an algae bloom.
“My conclusion, for now,” he writes, “Cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins cannot be the cause of the problem of Grand Lake or Fish Lake.”
He also notes the number of dead fish found in the area.
“My field observation can tell that there may be another chemical factor affecting on fish mortality,” he writes.
The province took its water samples from the area Thursday. It says those results are on the way.
“We are waiting for test results for the Shubenacadie Grand Lake water samples taken on Thursday,” writes Tracy Barron, media relations specialist with the Department of Environment and Climate Change.
“Those are tests for the contaminants that can be found in pesticides, toxins produced by algae, and E. Coli. We expect to have results back Tuesday.”
In the meantime, the advisory to stay clear of the water at Grand Lake remains.
That means residents who rely on the lake for their water supply, will have to continue to find alternate water sources.
Carla Countway of the East Hants Aquatic Centre says more than 120 residents came to the Centre for clean water over the weekend. The municipality just received more bottled water Monday.
Residents affected by the water advisory can come to the Centre from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily for clean water and access to the shower facilities.
People are encouraged to bring their own water containers, which can then be filled with clean water via a BPA-free hose.
Countway says the service will continue for as long as needed.