As time passed and the much needed filtration system did not materialize things began to unravel. In the year 2012 it reached a near crisis level. Fogo’s water is now excessively brown, loaded with silt and yo-yo’d with chlorine. Boil orders are now nearly a daily occurrence, while in former years they were infrequent, occurring mainly during hot, dry weather. Bathtubs and sinks are now ringed with brown residue after usage, and currently a shower in Fogo is a near equivalent to a ‘sand blasting’ because of the silt load in the water. We could now extend Coleridge’s words even further and say ‘silt and gravel everywhere and little hope in sight.’
The question now is what must be done to correct the problem? Putting in place boil orders, though necessary, is not a long-term solution, and neither is drastically reducing tax levels so that we lack the funds to maintain and upgrade. We need council to engage expert advice regarding the problem and its solution. We need council to fund and install a filtration system in the short term.
In the meantime, we need a thorough preventative maintenance program in place with properly trained and in-serviced staff. We need to know why chlorine levels fluctuate so wildly, why water flow rates are not consistent. We need to know why boil orders are constantly in place, and why sewage lift stations are constantly being worked on instead of being ‘fixed.’ Most importantly the Department of Health needs to explain to our people the possible risks from all the discoloration, the silt and the mud that daily flows from our taps and over our food.
In closing let me state clearly that the whole purpose for creating a new Island wide council on Fogo Island was to pool our resources and create capacity to access government funds to confront and solve problems like the one just described; and it’s not just the Fogo water system. Why is there no concerted and strong lobby being made to obtain running water for Barr’d
Islands with a water source just a few feet away? And why in 2013 should a large town like Joe Batt’s Arm have gravel roads filled with potholes and with no relief in sight? Why isn’t there a strong public lobby to get these roads paved? Eventually other water systems could end up like Fogo’s and what is being done to head off such a problem? Crisis management is not enough. It is doubly hard to understand when we see taxes slashed, a large unneeded expansion in council staff, as well as an unneeded new investments in vehicles and other equipment. Why, after nearly two years, has there been no real capital works program on Fogo Island? The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is now much better off financially than it was during the 1980’s and 1990’s when water systems and roads were built. It’s foolish to just say Government has no money. I say council has no push, no get up and go to obtain such funding. If this mind set continues to prevail many of us soon will be back with galvanized water buckets and birch hoops.