Thursday, December 20, 2018

Like the city's water itself, the city's information flow on the water situation is a little bit murky

When it comes to keeping residents informed on the ongoing issues with the city's drinking water supply, while the City is offering up helpful tips as to what to do during the current boil water order; it is also holding to the bare minimum of details related to the response to the situation itself.

Something that is leaving many in the community to wonder exactly when we might be able to turn on the tap again to enjoy the simple pleasure of a glass of water.

The Boil Water Notice went into effect on Friday, December 14th, the official notification posted to the City's website at 4:16 that day.

An expanded message from the mayor came over the weekend posted to his Social media Facebook page, providing some background on the nature of the city's work on the water supply at Shawatlans Lake and Woodworth Dam, as well as a nod towards environmental issues as the cause of the current problems. The weekend post also offered up some advice on what steps to take at home.

Recently another update appeared on the City's website to advise that the Boil Water Notice remains in effect, however as it was just tacked onto the original notice of December 14th, there's no actual time or date associated with the new information, so really who's to know when to start the clock on the latest update.

Beyond that, the new missive makes much mention in the way of the testing that both Northern Health and the City are conducting related to the water issues, with the City awaiting three clear tests to arrive before rescinding the boiling water order.

There is however  no indication as to what those results have delivered to this point, other than the obvious, that we still can't use our tap water without boiling it.

What might be helpful for residents to better understand the situation would be for the city to post the findings from each of the tests, starting with the one from Friday, December 14th that have set us all off to our stoves to boil water.

Using that Friday level as the benchmark, we then might have a better idea as to whether the situation is improving, or getting worse.

While most of us probably won't know too much about the detailed findings of such reports, the simple description of what is considered poor and what is considered safe; along with the daily data would suffice to give residents some kind of idea as to where the situation is currently at.

In addition to being a little more informative in the way of test results, it may be time for the Mayor and Council to outline what steps they will be prepared to take for the community to address the issue if it's going to be a longer term prospect for a safe return to the city's water supply.

To this point, City Council members have had little to say about the situation, leaving much of the information to the Mayor's Facebook notes and the occasional releases from the communications department on the website.

Some of the feedback that the city has received on social media has called attention to the burden that the situation is providing for seniors, elders and those on limited incomes, with some wondering if the city has any plans to set up a water distribution plan for those residents.

A question which so far has not elicited a reply from any civic officials.

Expanding their resources on the information delivery side might also be a good idea.

The city has made frequent mention that residents need to sign up for their new mobile app service, which delivers notification messages to home phones and tablets.

However, so far, the city has used that option sparingly, providing for the original Notification of December 14th, with a follow up notice delivered at 10:30 this morning

Likewise, the city's twitter feed seems to be the forgotten element of the city's information flow process, with few notes delivered through that forum at the best of times and even less during the current boil water notice period.

As for the most recent update, it concluded with the following note:

Thank you for your patience, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

As we head towards the one week anniversary and now with the prospect of another one to come, we may be getting a little close to the point where inconvenience won't be the best way to describe the situation and where  a more expansive approach to the issue and the information surrounding it might be required.

You can find the most recent notes on the water situation from our archive page here.

Further background on City Council discussion themes can be found from our Council Discussion archive page.

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