The MLA for La Verendrye is looking for answers after the Woodridge Community Club was given an order to decommission its community well.

Konrad Narth says this order was the result of an inspection done by the Department of Environment and Climate Change through the Office of Drinking Water. He notes the letter to the community club dated April 10, 2024, stated that the community was ordered to make a number of facility upgrades including the installation of a chlorination system. 

Narth says his concern is that new provincial orders for community wells, such as this one, miss the intention of these wells. He notes communities in the southeast, including Woodridge, have established these wells as a water source for the community with the main purpose being a reliable water source for agricultural and firefighting efforts. 

"We're forecasted to have a tough, dry season and communities rely on these bulk filling stations as a water source during fire season and this well also is used for supporting agriculture," Narth said last week in the Legislature. "Can the minister responsible please tell the House how many other communities will be getting the notice right in the middle of wildfire season?"

Narth says wells, such as the one in Woodridge, have quarterly analysis performed and are clearly marked as non-potable water sources, warning residents against human consumption. 

"This water source is marked as non-potable and has been in operation for newly 40 years without ever failing a water test," Narth told the Legislature. "Can the minister please tell the House what has changed in the last six months that requires the closure of this long serving water source?"

Narth says the installation of water treatment equipment will create undue hardship on the organizations managing these wells by forcing daily sampling and a tremendous amount of additional cost. He notes the cost and efforts of these are only half of the issues with the province's demands. 

"The larger issue is that each of these wells are used by the agricultural community together with residents who rely on them for water supply to gardens," adds Narth.

He says chlorinated water will limit the use of the water. Narth says it will also be inefficient use to have treated water used in fighting fires or for non-consumption purposes. 

"I need to add that the community well initiative first saw widespread use during the last prolonged period of drought in the late 1970s," says Narth. "With a drier than normal winter and spring proving to be on track we could be more reliant than ever on this type of water access."

Tracy Schmidt is Minister of Environment and Climate Change. She says her government is committed to working with Manitobans and committed to working with Narth on, what she calls an important file.

"We know that a safe and reliable source of drinking water is of top of mind for Manitobans this season, as we head into, after an incredibly dry winter," adds Schmidt. "I am incredibly proud of public servants in our Office of Drinking Water and we are top of the issue and we look forward to working with the community as we go forward."