Water is worth more than gold

By Vern McClelland

March 9, 2017 10:10 AM

Water, we can’t survive without it, yet most people don’t give it much thought, after all it flows from a tap just like milk comes from a carton.
When I was kid on the family farm, my parents struggled with several shallow wells that served both our house and the cattle.
Every winter morning dad pumped water in two or more locations for the thirsty herd.
It was a luxury when he installed a floating electric tank heater in the big trough in the center of the corral.
Before that, we had to light a fire in a built-in stove using baler twine, recycled oil, and old fence posts to thaw the ice that accumulated overnight.
Late in the winter the ground water our wells relied upon would start to freeze off, so bathing on Saturday night meant taking a turn soaking in only 2-in to 3-in of water in the bathtub.
I remember hauling in snow on winter Sunday evenings and packing it in a metal barrel just off the kitchen so it would be melted in time for wash day on Monday.
Mom and dad eventually moved to a newer house in town for the winters; no problem with water availability there.
So, I didn’t blame my wife for refusing to move back to the farm in 1979 unless a better water supply was established.
Drilling technology had improved by then and after two dry test holes, we were blessed with the bored well we still use today.
It supplies two households and,  until we moved our winter feedyard to another location, also met the needs of 200-plus head of livestock.
Water comes in to the well at about a depth of 60-ft and if you don’t get too adventuresome, replenishes quite quickly.
One December day last winter saw us looking for the cause of a sudden drop in pressure.
There could be a dozen possibilities with more than 1,500-ft of line buried in the ground.
It turned out to be something rather simple to repair; a failed fitting on the top of the submersible pump.
Still, it was no fun to pull out and replace at —25C wind chill!
With these experiences in mind, I always focus on the quantity and quality of water serving the acreages and farmyards our clients plan on buying.
Water simply is not everywhere.
Systems are mechanical and need ongoing maintenance.
We always recommend a flow test done by a professional well drilling company plus a lab analysis.
If coliforms are found, the system can often successfully be “shocked” using chlorine.
Even so, the source of the bacteria is usually caused from the inflow at ground level, so landscaping or some other measures to seal the well may be needed to avoid repeat contamination.
This past summer’s unfortunate oil pipeline break next to the North Saskatchewan River serves as a harsh reminder to all of us that we must be constantly diligent to maintain a safe water supply.
I commend the Village of Paradise Hill for providing water to their residents using a community wide reverse osmosis system.
Doing so immediately made water softeners and associated salt requirements obsolete.
I’m no scientist, but I bet it’s healthier to drink too.
Other communities in the midwest have been taking note; hopefully more will follow suit as technological advances have made it more affordable.
The communities west of Lloydminster are to be applauded for seeking to develop a water pipeline to take advantage of the city’s existing supply and treatment infrastructure.
If you travel in the northern United States, you will find many areas that have banded together to create a similar utility which benefits all member farms, acreages, and communities.
Water is the one natural resource that governments at all levels should give the highest priority to.
There is no future without it.
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster. He can be reached at (780) 808-2700, through www.vernmcclelland.com or by following the Midwest Group Lloydminster on Facebook.

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