Work is underway to bring water access back to the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu after a barge broke a primary water line. (District of Ucluelet photo)

Work is underway to bring water access back to the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu after a barge broke a primary water line. (District of Ucluelet photo)

More bad news for Ucluelet First Nation as it enters second week without water

Barge-damaged water line from Ucluelet to Hitacu deemed beyond repair

The Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu remains cut off from its water supply on Monday as a submerged line that had been crashed into by a barge on Jan. 17 has been deemed unsalvagable.

“After careful assessment, it has become clear that the existing water supply line has been damaged beyond repair and will have to be completely replaced in order to ensure a successful and reliable water supply to Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ going forward,” read a Jan. 22 advisory posted by the District of Ucluelet. “This obstacle has forced the team to consider every possible option. We are now in the process of confirming the usability of repurposing an existing submerged line.”

Parts are expected to arrive in Ucluelet today for the crew to get to work on installing the existing line and, once that work is complete, the district expects to have a more accurate timetable for when Hitacu’s taps can be turned on.

“This is good news, as the submerged water line, once confirmed as usable, will provide a more reliable, secure, and possibly quicker source of clean drinking water to Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ,” the announcement states.

Residents and visitors are reminded that the Pat Leslie Boat Launch remains closed while the repairs are underway.

Residents 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 the tap water will not make it safe and 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.

“Water trucks have been in the community working to fill and maintain the water levels of the hitac̓u water tower. Once the water tower has reached a sustainable volume and first round of water testing is complete, restrictions may be eased to allow for sanitary washing and short showers. It will be vital to keep water consumption low when this transition takes place,” reads a statement from the Ucluelet First Nation. “In order for the State of Emergency to be lifted the water system needs to be flushed and thorough testing must be done on the tap water to ensure it is safe for consumption. This process will take some time. As more information is gathered, further updates will be issued.”

Ucluelet has been transporting a water supply truck to Hitacu and the First Nation is delivering bottled water to households. Any households that run out of water are advised to contact Community Health Nurse Simblejeet Kaur at simblejeet.kaur@ufn.ca.

“We thank UFN staff and community service interns for your help in distribution. Water deliveries will continue daily until the State of Emergency is lifted,” the statement reads.

It adds that water refills are available at the Ucluelet Community Centre and Ucluelet’s West Coast Motel is offering shower access to all Hitacu residents. Shower appointments can be booked through the Cixʷatin Centre at 250-726-7342.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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