Column: Well-deserved thanks for Munster Boil Water Advisory response

On Thursday April 28th, a severe wind storm swept through Eastern Ontario and left its mark on Rideau-Goulbourn.  Power outages and fallen trees were reported from Ashton, Burritt’s Rapids, North Gower, Richmond, Kars, Manotick and elsewhere.  One power outage had a greater effect than most, however, as the village of Munster lost their power, their water pumping station, and thus their drinking water for 48 hours.

At 11am, power was lost within the village of Munster.  As is always the case, the power to the water pumping station was also lost.  However, as you all know, this has happened before during the ice storm and other such outages and the village has never lost their water supply.  The difference on Thursday was that the backup generator failed.  This backup generator had most recently been inspected on April 18th with no reported problems.  The crews on site quickly discovered that the generator had been struck by lightning at some point prior to Thursday’s wind storm, thus causing it to fail when called upon.

At 2pm, as I was walking the halls of City Hall devising my plans to deal with the water ban issue in Manotick, I was informed of another water issue; this time a potential boil water advisory in Munster.  With water pressure off for at least 2 hours, it was no longer possible to provide a guarantee on the quality of the drinking water in Munster.  I met with the Deputy City Manager, and the GM of Environmental Services in the Mayor’s Office.  Once it was decided that a boil water advisory was imminent, measures were put in place, public health was deployed and I made my way to Munster.

When I arrived in Munster at 5pm, I was overwhelmed by the response.  Sixteen Public Health teams were organized and ready to go door-to-door with information on the boil water advisory.  Shortly after, 6000L of bottled water arrived and due to the power outage, the Ottawa Police Mobile Command Centre was deployed and arrived by 6pm.  At the same time, the public health teams had begun their visitations and residents were already coming by the Community Centre to collect bottled water.

Looking to keep residents as informed as possible, I made my way over to the pumping station at 6:30pm and spoke with the crews working on the backup generator to gather up to date information.  At 6:40pm, I reported these updates live on CFRA.  The gentlemen working at the pumping station were incredible and they told me the water would be restored by 7pm.  I stuck around and watched as the pump restarted at 6:57pm.

Back at the Community Centre, we arranged the placement of digital signage and continued to distribute water and help residents through this situation.  Ottawa Police patrolled the village in darkness throughout the evening.  By 10:15pm, power was restored and we had distributed over 2500L of bottled water.

After 48 hours and over 5000L of bottled water handed out to the residents of Munster, the Boil Water Advisory was lifted at 11:30 Saturday morning.  The City issued a press release, we updated the signage, and I arranged for an automated phone call to inform the residents of Munster.

I’d like to thank Ottawa Public Health, Parks & Recreation, the Emergency Response Team, and the Ottawa Police for their efforts in our community during this time.  Furthermore, an even bigger thank you goes out to the residents of Munster.  Thank you for your patience, cooperation and understanding.  Thank you to Mac’s Convenience Store for being the first response for bottled water until they ran out.  Thank you to Danby’s for staying open and providing residents a place to grab a warm meal and a cold drink.  We all easily recall the power losses during the winter of 1998 and this again shows us how rural communities work together and help each other in times of need.

Thank you!