The meeting, which was held on July 11th, saw the council chambers filled — and then some — with residents of Riverhead concerned about their own well-being, after enduring several weeks without proper water and sewage services due to ongoing issues with Mercer’s well.
Mercer’s well, according to Riverhead resident Lyda Byrne, has been unreliable for many years, but has recently given the community more trouble than usual. In late March, the well’s pump was replaced following an eight-day stint where residents had no access to water. Days later, the pump was no longer working again.
There are approximately 22 houses in Riverhead being serviced by Mercer’s well.
Now, the well is giving residents issues again, and Byrne explained that residents are being forced to take advantage of water from family members and friends.
“We are in a situation where we can’t take a shower before work, or after a long shift at work,” explained Byrne during the council meeting. “We have to rely on family members, usually our parents, to travel to their homes to use their showers and bathrooms. Ultimately, we’re disrupting their morning routines as well as our own to do something that we should have no problems with in the first place – it is 2017, basic access to water and sewage is a human necessity.”
Byrne also brought up Mayor Terry Barnes’ involvement in a previous meeting held between residents, Barnes, MHA Pam Parsons, and MP Ken McDonald. Byrne said that Barnes attended the meeting for approximately 15 minutes, despite the meeting lasting about an hour. However, during his time there, Byrne commended Barnes for making sure the community’s issues were brought forth.
The meeting in question, which was organized and put in place by residents of Riverhead, regarded the well situation in their community, where residents hoped to see a permanent solution put in place by government.
Residents also took issue with council’s recent pitch to take ownership of Harvey Street. Byrne asked the town how they could afford to take on such a project, when the idea of a proper fix for Mercer’s well seemed to be something that the town of Harbour Grace could not afford.
During Byrne’s lengthy presentation to council Tuesday night, she noted that residents have been forced to purchase a port-a-potty due to their lack of proper sewage services. Byrne also noted that residents of Harbour Grace are aware of the situation regarding Mercer’s well.
“We the residents of Riverhead serviced by Mercer’s well are tired of being pushed back on the list – we, despite what you may think, are residents of the community as well,” said Byrne in her statement to council. “We are not asking for things like the Canada Day motorcade ride through our community next year, so that our children and grandchildren can see it. No, we are asking for basic human necessities. We are not a pothole issue, we are a third world country issue. We are living in third world country conditions, and that is unacceptable in 2017.”
At the end of Byrne’s presentation, Barnes thanked residents for coming to speak at the meeting, and added that he would be contacting MHA Parsons the following day regarding emergency funding so that proper water and sewage can be put in place for the community as soon as possible.