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Telkwa resident wants answers following water line break

Marnie Fuerst has been living with a temporary water supply since early August
Marnie Fuerst and her family has dealt with broken water lines in Telkwa in the past, with her parents home being flooded after a break in 2019. (Submitted photo)

A Telkwa resident has been living without water in her home for almost two months, and is left wondering when the village will return her home back to normal.

Marnie Fuerst has been without access to clean, drinkable or usable water since Aug. 5, she said, when her main water line broke during summer replacement construction of the old lines across the village.

“They never told me it was broken,” she said. “No phone call, no note on the door, nothing.”

Marnie lives on Cottonwood Street and is the only resident on the currently broken water line. Instead of telling her about the broken line, the contractors simply hooked up her line to her neighbour’s RV tap and dropped it back into her yard, she said.

Her neighbours, Kelly and Jason Brook, were never asked permission nor told about Fuerst’s broken water line, they said.

The water currently running into Fuerst’s home is yellow, undrinkable and unusable, she said, and in order to get this kind of water hooked up properly in the first place, her father had to spend over $500.

“My dad replaced and hooked up outdoor tap water so water would run through the house,” she said. “The town never even offered to do that.”

Fuerst’s father, Wilf, has been in the contracting business for over 50 years. This is not the first time he has taken matters into his own hands to help his family deal with water line issues in Telkwa.

In December of 2019, a pipe burst and flooded Wilf and his wife Barb’s home.

“Their house was the only one that was [flooded], the whole reservoir went through their yard,” Marnie recalls. “The town didn’t touch it. My dad and brother worked through the night to repair the pipe.”

READ MORE: Telkwa water lines are ‘ticking time bombs’: mayor

Fuerst has tried several times to get in touch with people in the village, hoping to get some answers and clarity. She said she has spoken with Mayor Leroy Dekens, chief administrative officer Debbie Joujan and director of operations Lev Hartfeil. However, she feels her questions and concerns are being left unanswered.

“When I ask any questions, I either get ignored or don’t get any clear answers,” she said. “They are not communicating with me, and it seems they’re stringing me along and they’ve got something in for me.”

She went on to say she has never been offered any drinking water or any sort of compensation for her troubles. She says the village has done nothing to make her life remotely convenient ever since the water line broke.

Joujan said the temporary above-ground water line was installed on Aug. 8, using materials approved for potable water, and it will stay in place until the contractor reaches Fuerst’s property.

“The water in the temporary line was sampled just outside of the connection to the residence, and it was tested following the same method as weekly water samples are tested throughout the village,” Joujan said. “It was found to be clean, clear, and potable water.

“As the affected water line is set to be replaced as part of a large waterline project in progress, the permanent underground line will not be installed until the contractor reaches that particular property,” Joujan added.

When Fuerst went to a council meeting on Aug. 8, she said was told that things would be repaired within a couple of weeks. Almost six weeks later, the line is still broken and her water is still a light shade of yellow, she claimed.

Part of the delay could be due to a change in contractors. Marnie said the village told her Bear Creek Contracting had taken over, and it would take another month to complete. However, when she contacted Bear Creek on Aug. 14, she said they couldn’t give her any date as to when it would be completed.

“This wouldn’t have been so bad to deal with if I didn’t feel like I was being ignored, not being put on priority and not being given conflicting information,” she said.

READ MORE: Residents of Coalmine Road in Telkwa demand answers from Council