Carp BIA survey says better water wanted

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – In what might be the least surprising survey results in West Carleton history, Village of Carp residents are overwhelmingly in favour of the village connecting to the City of Ottawa’s water service.

On April 19, the Village of Carp Business Improvement Area (BIA) launched a survey intended to solicit data on both the businesses and residents’ of Carp’s opinions on the current water service as well as their preferences moving forward.

As of April 29, the survey received 115 responses and the message was very clear. Of respondents, 82 per cent had concerns about their water and 88 per cent would support connecting to city water.

In the Village of Carp, residents and businesses access their water through the village’s own water treatment facility (owned and operated by the City of Ottawa) which accesses a local groundwater source.

While the city, with both provincial and federal partners, concluded a $6.85 million project in 2021 to upgrade the facility as well as improve the taste of the water by installing a Granular Activated Carbon treatment system, water issues continue to abound.

Water quality and access concerns linger, highlighted by a March 5 downtown fire, which caused several residents’ water to discolour and sputter. Some for an extended period of time.

The survey was designed to provide the BIA with hard data on the issue, and the results seem very clear.

Some sample comments representing the majority of respondents from the survey’s three open-ended questions included “it smells, tastes awful and is very hard. The hard water is leaving scales on the taps, showers, etc. The water pressure is too low to run properly installed lawn sprinklers. Foggy, rusty colour, smell of chlorine, I do not feel safe drinking it. The taste of chlorine makes the water undrinkable.”

Almost 73 per cent of respondents say they use a water softener. Forty-six per cent said they experience issues related to water pressure.

Concerns about water pressure included “water pressure fluctuates more than it should. Sometimes it’s fine and other times you can’t get the shampoo out of your hair. Water pressure seems lower compared to other places we lived in. Once or twice a month, more often in summer, water trickles in at a lower pressure but usually comes back after 10 minutes or so.”

Fifty-six per cent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with water supply and quality. Only 25 per cent said they were satisfied and 19 per cent replying ‘other’ to that question.

The survey elicited just under 100 comments to its open-ended questions, 100 per cent of them negative.

Of the 115 respondents, 114 gave their relationship with Carp. Almost 86 per cent of respondents live in the Village of Carp. Almost eight per cent both live and operate a business in the village. Just more than four per cent operate a business in Carp. Just under two per cent responded they neither live nor operate a business in the village.

Village of Carp BIA board chair Jennifer Stewart, who both lives and operates her business in Carp, says the results are pretty clear, the community is not happy with their water.

“I think that’s a very astute interpretation of the survey,” Stewart told West Carleton Online last Thursday (May 2). “The BIA has heard this for a long time. We wanted to substantiate that through a survey.”

Stewart said her water supply was also affected by the March fire.

“Our water, and we heard this from many people, our water was brown and sputtering,” Stewart said. “That was fairly consistent across the village. The system no longer works. We deserve better. We need water and we can do better. We want our supply safe, secure and stable.”

Stewart said, while collating the results, even she was surprised by the almost unanimous opinion for better service.

“It’s rampant and widespread,” Stewart said. “Even I was surprised to see how overwhelming the response was. Even the hardness. It has impacts on our plumbing, on our hair.”

Stewart says the survey results will help shine a light on the issue.

“Our hope is, as an organization, we can represent the voice of not only our businesses, but the residents of Carp,” she said.

Just down the road, on the other side of March Road, the Carp Road Corridor BIA has long been championing the idea of the area hooking up to the city’s water service for years.

“We’ve been in conversation with the CRCBIA,” Stewart said. “It’s been a joint effort. There are benefits to the local economy.”

Stewart says accessing the city’s central water system will not change the face of the village either.

“It doesn’t mean there will be urban sprawl and uncontrolled growth,” she said. “Community leaders can manage that and make sure the village’s character is maintained.”

With extensive infrastructure repair and new lanes along Carp Road near Highway 417 planned for the near future, Stewart believes now is the time to work on connecting to the city’s water system.

“This information helps our local councillor determine how widespread the issue is,” she said. “It provides Coun. Clarke Kelly with ammunition. I think it’s time now we stop with the band-aid solutions. There is provincial funding available. Connecting is where we need to go for our community. I’m not an expert on infrastructure, but the city is working on its Infrastructure Master Plan and it’s time to include that in the master plan.”

Next up for the Carp BIA, on this issue, is to host a town hall meeting, which is scheduled for May 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Carp Agricultural Hall (3790 Carp Rd.) with Coun. Kelly and civil engineer Jennifer Murry in attendance along with members of the Village of Carp BIA to discuss the survey results and next steps.

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