Saint John resident skeptical about west side water switch
Municipal water users in Saint John say they are skeptical about the latest plan to supply water to residents on the city's the west side.
Earlier this week, the city unveiled plans to switch thousands of residents away from well water and back to lake water.
West Saint John resident Frances Brownell is among thousands who will soon be making the switch.
"Nothing could be any worse than what we already have,” she says.
The city says a new series of wells is not keeping up with demand, so it will switch many west side customers to water from the new east side treatment plant.
Many residents blame the well water for almost two years of plumbing and appliance problems.
"When people say, ‘I lost my kettle,’ or, ‘I lost my hot water tank’, I had to get a new washing machine, I mean, those things, people are not ready to all of a sudden replace all of that at once,” says Brownell. “And that's the way it went."
Brownell is part of a class action lawsuit against the city. In turn, the city is itself threatening a lawsuit against an engineering company that recommended the new wells.
But officials say water users should still be reassured.
"The water is safe,” says Saint John councillor Blake Armstrong. “There's no end of the water supply, everything is good. We're just switching some neighbourhoods from the west side well water to the east side water because the consultants, they weren't just wrong, they were dead wrong."
The city insists there is enough water in east side lakes to supply thousands of additional customers on the west side, though they expect not everyone will be convinced.
"Who can you trust? People who are responsible for your very basic drinking water, and everybody makes mistakes, but this is a biggie,” says Brownell. “This is a real biggie."
"After last year, who can blame people for being skeptical?” says Armstrong.
The switch over from well water to east side lake water is expected to happen this fall, and while some residents remain skeptical, the city says it is not expected to create any further disruptions.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.