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B.C. First Nation declares state of emergency after barge crashes into water line

Hitacu system unusable, water being trucked in from neighbouring Ucluelet

A barge crashed into a submerged water line in the Ucluelet inlet on Monday, cutting off the Ucluelet First Nation’s water supply.

Residents of the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu are advised not to consume or cook with any tap water until further notice and the First Nation has declared a state of emergency.

Ucluelet First Nation president Charles McCarthy issued a statement clarifying that boiling water will not make it safe and bottled water is being delivered to Hitacu residents.

He added the water is also not safe for bathing or showering, brushing teeth, washing fruits or vegetables, washing dishes or giving to pets.

The state of emergency is currently set to expire on Jan. 31.

A District of Ucluelet advisory explained that a dive team investigated the water line break and found a broken seam and kink in the line.

“In the next days, the water line will be removed from the inlet to allow for repairs of the line to begin. Once the line has been inspected and repeaired, it will be returned to the inlet where it will be reconnected, sunk and re-anchored to the inlet floor,” the advisory states.

“At this time we are unable to provide a specific timeline for this process, although we hope to be able to confirm a general timeline once the line is out of the water and the inspection has been completed. We hope this step is completed by Wednesday or Thursday.”

With Hitacu residents cut off from water, the district said a supply truck will be hauling water to the Ucluelet First Nation from Ucluelet’s water system.

The break also caused Ucluelet’s water to be heavily discoloured due to significant manganese sediment, though the district believes that discolouration will not continue during the repairs.

Any Ucluelet residents still experiencing brown water are advised to flush their home lines using an exterior tap and run the water until it clears.

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