Water-main break a headache for schools, businesses

A recent water-main break had Meadow Lake and Flying Dust First Nation residents anxious as they scrambled to ensure they had adequate water reserves. Both water and sewer services were unavailable for more than 24 hours as city workers located and repaired the broken pipe.

A recent water-main break had Meadow Lake and Flying Dust First Nation residents anxious as they scrambled to ensure they had adequate water reserves. Both water and sewer services were unavailable for more than 24 hours as city workers located and repaired the broken pipe.

by Phil Ambroziak

The derailing of the Saskatchewan Express was only one of several irritants to arise as a result of the recent water-main break in the City of Meadow Lake.

The musical theatre performance, which was scheduled for Thursday (March 6) at Jonas Samson Junior High School, was ultimately cancelled as school officials awaited word on when exactly the city’s water supply would be restored.

“They (Saskatchewan Express) were scheduled to come here as they neared the end of their tour,” explained JSJH vice-principal Linda Harman. “But, because the performers were going to be billeted by local residents and we were still unsure if we were going to have running water, we unfortunately had to cancel the show before they arrived.”
Because the Saskatchewan Express tour was nearing its end, however, it’s impossible for JSJH to reschedule a performance for the immediate future.

“Local resident Olivia Balisky toured with the Saskatchewan Express last summer and that’s what triggered our interest in bringing the group here,” Harman added. “We wanted to show our students this is something they could aim for and a dream that could be within their reach. But, when you’re dealing with the unknown, things often happen that you have no control over.”

Along with the cancellation of various extracurricular activities, including air cadets, gymnastics lessons and other evening functions held throughout the community, the water outage also resulted in the Northwest School Division sending students home early on Tuesday and encouraging them to stay home on Wednesday. Classes resumed Thursday morning, but not before Carpenter High School was forced to postpone its annual Swing Into Spring fundraiser from last Wednesday to tonight (March 11).

“School administrators and I had a meeting on Tuesday (March 4) to see what could be done,” remarked CHS wellness coordinator Judy Waites. “We decided, if the water came back on by 10 a.m. the next day, we could still go ahead with our event as planned. By lunch, however, we realized – if we did have to cancel it – it would mean a lot of phone calls to  make and a lot of rearranging on short notice. That’s when the decision was made to postpone the event.”

Waites said the school was fortunate the caterer was still available and the various businesses involved in the event’s silent auction were understanding.

“We were all going through the same thing,” she said.

Local businesses also felt the effects of the water outage. While the Nor’Wester Motor Inn had no choice but to close its restaurant and lounge for the day, salons such as Bliss Hair Studio on Centre Street offered limited services.

“We could still do haircuts, waxings and nails, but we had to cancel more than half of our hair appointments,” said Melissa Albright. “But, the city got things going again fairly quickly, which was awesome.”

Nor’Wester co-owner Tammy Edwards agreed.

“I was expecting the water to remain off for at least another day if not longer,” she said. “When it came back on, we opened our bar immediately, but didn’t open the restaurant until Thursday morning. I’m not blaming anyone for the outage because these things sometimes happen and the city did a great job of getting it back up.”

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