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Alma water system upgrades expected to start this year

By Brad Perry Apr 12, 2024 | 6:03 AM

There is optimism in the community of Alma that the need for recurring boil water advisories will soon come to an end.

More than $12 million in government funding was announced last fall for two new wells and related infrastructure in the community, which is part of the municipality of Fundy Albert.

A community meeting was held Wednesday evening to discuss the various components of the project and how long it will take to complete.

Fundy Albert Mayor Bob Rochon said work is expected to begin this year and continue until 2026.

“The wells are already in place. Now they’re going to start to build the infrastructure, but there’s a number of things that have to happen before that occurs,” Rochon said in an interview on Thursday.

That included this week’s meeting, which was part of the environmental impact assessment process. Rochon said there are also landowner and Indigenous consultations taking place.

Officials said the project will reduce turbidity levels and increase water supply to meet high demand, especially during the busy summer tourist season.

RELATED: New wells being built in Alma

The community’s population of roughly 300 people balloons during the summer months. Rochon said estimates suggest as many as 5,000 tourists come to the community each week.

“When tourists visit and they stay and they eat in our restaurants and they stay in our hotels and motels, they use a fair amount of water. So that taxes a very small system that’s there,” he said.

“At one point, it was quite adequate for the small number of residents that we have there. But with the growth of the Airbnb industry, with increased tourism, and with general growth within the community, the system is to the point now where it’s no longer able to meet the demands.”

Alma’s water distribution system was “at capacity” last summer, according to municipal officials, prompting calls for residents and business owners to conserve water.

Low water levels increase turbidity levels and trigger the need for boil water advisories in the community, said Rochon.

The community installed a temporary water supply from Fundy National Park last summer. While that helped with supply issues, it led to a boil water advisory for the entire summer.

“There are certain guidelines that have to be met with the Department of Health in order to ensure that the water is safe to drink,” said Rochon.

“So because we were using water from Fundy National Park, which is a federally run system, we really didn’t have the information necessary to satisfy the Department of Health that the water was safe to drink without actually boiling it.”

Alma will use that same temporary water supply again this summer, but Rochon said they have taken proactive steps this year to ensure a boil water advisory will not be needed.