Manawan deprived of drinking water for 4 days, an anticipated crisis
The village of Manawan, in the north of the Lanaudière region, has been deprived of water since Sunday.
The Atikamekw community of Manawan, deprived of drinking water, can no longer flush the toilet, drink or bathe since Monday.
It was during the night of Sunday to Monday that the problems began to appear with regard to the water well. The Atikamekw Council immediately prohibited the consumption or use of water by the entire population.
“If the water level in the reservoir remains too low for too long, it could lead to even more serious problems and would plunge Manawan into a prolonged crisis situation,” explained Paul-Émile Ottawa. , head of the Atikamekw Council, at a press conference on Thursday.
Extreme weather conditions and the precariousness of the road between Saint-Michel-des-Saints and Manawan, located 250 kilometres north of Montreal, made managing operations even more difficult. The team of drilling experts, which was to arrive at the beginning of the week, was late in arriving on site because of the snowstorm.
Water tankers also had difficulty getting to the scene. A truck ended up in the ditch, forcing it to dump water from its tank directly onto the road.
The origin of the problem is still unknown. For now, several scenarios are being considered, including the possibility of a mechanical failure in the water pump.
The Council has been distributing bottles of water since Tuesday and encouraging the population to find spring water themselves on the territory.
Part of the evacuated population
The fifteen seniors living at the Elders' Center have been relocated to a hotel in the region. Chief Paul-Émile Ottawa is also considering the evacuation of another part of the population in the coming hours, in particular pregnant women and any other person in a vulnerable situation.
We hope that the situation will return to normal, but it will take a certain number of days to decontaminate the water and make it clean again, said Chief Ottawa.
The Saint-Michel-des-Saints laundry has also decided to open its doors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to allow the Atikamekw community to have access to its services, including the shower.
Schools have been closed since the beginning of the week. The Masko-Siwin Health Center also.
The committee that was initially mandated to manage the health crisis in Manawan is the same one that is now assigned to manage the water shortage situation. This situation comes as several people in the community have recently contracted COVID-19.
“It overtaxes our staff and I'm afraid they will get sick because of it. We shouldn't lose them at this time, because we really need them for the rest of the things we're going to put into action,”explains Chief Ottawa.
One of the water operators, sent to the site to try to find solutions, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. The chief fears a potential outbreak which would slow down operations.
We are vulnerable right now.
Bryan Decontie, Director of Community Planning, on the crisis situation in Manawan
Manawan was also deprived of electricity two weeks ago, when the temperature outside felt like -45 degrees. The outage, which lasted 12 hours, could potentially be linked to the water problem.