Zeballos – Best tap water in BC runs dry

By Denise Titian, June 8, 2017

Demolition to the Sugarloaf Brige broke a water line, leaving the Village of Zeballos without drinking water. (Submitted photo) 

Zeballos, B.C. — 

The tiny town that was declared to have the best tap water in British Columbia saw their taps run dry, at least temporarily. The British Columbia Water & Waste Association named Zeballos, B.C. as the town with the best tap water on May 30.

A week later the waterline sprung a leak during demolition of the town’s iconic Sugarloaf Bridge, forcing workers to shut off water to the entire community of Zeballos and neighboring Ehattesaht so that repairs could be made.

The Sugarloaf Bridge is the long, narrow, wooden bridge that connects the two sides of Zeballos. It is old and was so degraded that its load limit was reduced to 3,000 kilograms.

This was too rickety to carry a pick-up truck with a large load, said Village of Zeballos Administrator Eileen Lovestrom.

“We know we couldn’t cross that bridge with a load of wood,” she said.

The time has come for a bridge replacement and demolition of the old bridge began June 5. The village waterline is attached to the bridge and was damaged during demolition. “It sprung a leak at one of its connections but we had to shut the water off to assess the damage and fix it,” said Lovestrom.

A notice was sent out advising the community that the water would be off for two days but the leak was fixed sooner than expected and the water was only off for a few hours. But, because there had been a breach in the water line, Island Health must ensure the safety of the water for the entire community. According to Lovestrom, that means flushing all the waterlines and collecting water samples for two consecutive days for testing.

“The water is back on but there’s a boil water advisory in place,” said Lovestrom.

As for the Sugarloaf Bridge, Lovestrom said that vital community connector will be out of commission for up to six months.

“What was a five minute walk from one side of the bridge to the post office is now an eight-kilometre trip through the detour,” said Lovestrom.

This means people are forced to use their vehicles more and it means that those that don’t have vehicles – and there are many, according to Lovestrom, must rely on others for rides.

“We are hoping the new bridge is complete by September but it could take up to six months to complete,” said Lovestrom.