Based on a preliminary investigation at the Wheatley Water Treatment Plant, expectations for the return of normal operations at the plant have been estimated at a year or longer, Municipality of Chatham-Kent officials say.
The time period is due to the fire causing significant damage to specialized mechanical and electrical systems within the plant.
This specialized equipment can have long lead times for order and delivery.
The full extent of the damage is not yet known, and as a result precise timelines for a return to normal operations cannot yet be established, Municipal officials added.
Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is working closely with CK Public Health, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to resolve the Boil Water Advisory.
System changes are being implemented to ensure that the supply of water is sustainable. Once system reliability can be confirmed, water testing will determine when the advisory can be lifted.
“We would like the people of Wheatley and Tilbury to know that although the Water Treatment Plant will be out of service for the foreseeable future, this does not necessarily mean that the Boil Water Advisory will be active for that amount of time as well,” said Tim Sunderland, General Manager of Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission, in a media release.
“Once we stabilize the water supply, which we are working to do now, we will be able to test the water with accurate and repeatable results.”
“CK Public Health takes every precaution needed where the quality of our drinking water is concerned,” said April Rietdyk, General Manager of Health & Human Services, in a press release.
“We need to be absolutely certain in the reliability of our water delivery system before we can be confident in the repeatability of water testing results. Once the water system is secured, testing will be used to determine when CK Public Health can lift the advisory.”
PUC staff are working to maintain water supply through bulk water haulers and system interconnects with neighbouring water systems, Municipal officials say.
Residents in the affected communities may notice trailers being brought in as a precautionary measure to house an emergency bottled water supply.
For the time being, residents in Wheatley and Tilbury will experience low water pressure.
The PUC is asking that residents of Wheatley, Tilbury and customers served by the South Water Treatment Plant (which includes the communities of Blenheim, Merlin, Coatsworth, Shrewsbury, Rondeau and Erieau) conserve water until further notice.
During a Boil Water Advisory, water can be consumed after bringing it to a rolling boil for one minute.
This advisory measure is in place until CK Public Health receives additional information regarding the stability of the water system.
CK Public Health is working closely with the Public Utilities Commission at this time.
Status updates on the Boil Water Advisory can be found by calling the Water Advisory Update Line at 519-436-3250.