For decades, residents on Thomas Drive in Fall River have got their drinking water from Thomas Lake.
“We’ve gotten it here since 1963,” said resident Lindsey Hamilton.
“We’ve never had any problems with our drinking water.”
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But there is growing concern that a planned development could impact the quality of the community’s water. Vision 7 Developments is looking to build a seniors housing and nursing home complex on Fall River Road, about one kilometre up from Thomas Drive.
The proposal from the developer includes plans to build a water treatment facility with a pipe for effluent into Lake Thomas. The planned output is about 200 metres from where residents draw their water.
“We are very worried about our water system,” said Thomas Swaine, who’s lived on the private street for over four decades.
“We have no other means of getting drinking water except from that lake.”
The big concern is what happens if the water treatment were to fail and raw sewage was dumped into the lake.
“There have been failures in the Halifax water sewage treatment systems and I’m concerned with what would happen to the lake if there was a failure,” says nearby Windsor Junction resident Alan Joyce.
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Ron Pachal, who is with the development company, says the project will bring the most technologically advanced treatment systems to Nova Scotia. He says that the water will be treated before it ends up in the lake, and that the development will have a state-of-the-art monitoring system with alarms and backup equipment to help prevent any failures.
Pachal says the developer has all the permits it needs and has submitted all documents and complied with everything required from both the municipality and the province.
But residents say they’ve had concerns about the process.
An initial water study approved by the provincial department of environment and climate change stated that it was “unlikely” the lake was used for drinking water. After residents raised concerns that eleven households relied on the lake for drinking water, the department requested that the developer do a due diligence review to ensure the intake has been considered. The developer has complied and the department says it is hoping to “share the outcome of that review soon.”
Area residents say there is only one outcome they want, and that’s for planned pipe to be removed from the lake.
“They have enough land that they could have a million different sewage options there,” Hamilton said.
“This lake cannot withstand a mistake from a treatment plant,” Swaine said.
“They’re gambling on no mistakes, what’s going to happen if that lake gets ruined?”
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