Water, oh precious water

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The housing for Winchester Well Field #7, with two well heads visible left of the building. Water is treated here and pumped about 10km into Winchester village limits

With the municipal election coming up in just a few days, a decades-long problem in the villages of Winchester and Chesterville is becoming a key election issue. The villages need reliable, plentiful, and clean sources of municipal water in order to sustain growth. 

Water woes have been part of the local news in North Dundas for quite some time. Currently, water for Winchester is pumped from six groundwater wells, while Chesterville’s supply is pumped from just two. The wells are scattered throughout the Township, with treated water being pumped into the water towers for gravity distribution into the water mains. The Winchester and Chesterville systems are connected via a pipeline that runs along the Gypsy Lane trail (otherwise known as Davidson Lane, where Winchester’s water reservoir is located), though they operate more or less independently of each other. Particularly in Winchester, new growth has been largely stifled by the lack of new water connection allotments available. In Chesterville, water issues have more to do with aesthetic quality, as residents have been battling frequent coloured water incidents for years. 

Candidates in the upcoming election have focused strongly on water issues. One candidate mentioned that water has been an issue locally for many decades, and that finding sustainable water will always be a priority. This particular candidate also mentioned potential plans to have municipal wells operate more in a “series” to help address water quality issues. Another candidate discussed the ongoing search for new water sources, including the particulars of scouting out locations for new municipal wells. These candidates are not named out of fairness to other candidates – it is up to each candidate to campaign for the issues most important to them. 

Winchester and Chesterville are only two out of many communities within the broader North Dundas community. South Mountain, Inkerman, Mountain, Hallville, Morewood and other tight knit areas have residents who are accustomed to pumping their own well water. This water comes with no guarantees of being safe for human consumption, is generally unavailable during power outages, and is usually much harder on water-consuming appliances. Residents using well water often buy and maintain water softeners and reverse osmosis drinking water systems, and must take special care to preserve water, particularly during drought conditions. Residents in these communities are doubtlessly not focused nearly as much on Winchester and Chesterville water woes in the upcoming election. 

Discussions of water, the oh-so-precious commodity that it is, show that even in a community as small and tight-knit as North Dundas, residents in different areas of the Township naturally have different priorities. Critical for any candidate, or at least for any cohesive local government, is to figure out how to balance the representation of the various wide-ranging issues that matter to residents in different parts of the Township. 

This issue of the Times will focus on the municipal election coming up in just three short days. Read on, and be sure to make your votes count!

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