|G.Campbell, (right) K. Stone, A. Lafreniere|
When a major water crisis faced Chapleau in February 1973, Tony Fraser, Grant Campbell and Anicet Lafreniere, who were not employees of the municipality, worked tirelessly to restore full service.
It all started on Wednesday February 14, Valentine's Day when pump house attendants noted that the pumping pressure had dropped at the old pump house, which was diagnosed as caused by a break in a water main somewhere in the community. It was not known where as water had not surfaced above ground.
The electric pumping station was turned off as it could only supply 550,000 gallons pressure daily, which was sufficient to keep Chapleau well supplied but with the break, it could not cope with the situation.
Immediately, the auxiliary diesel system that could supply quite adequately the needs of the town plus the water main break was put into action, and this worked quite well for two days when the 27-year old diesel system sputtered and died.
Tony, Grant and Anicet, described as "diesel experts" in the Chapleau Sentinel were brought in to determine the problem.
They worked non-stop for about 24 hours until they found what they thought was the problem.
Parts for the obsolete diesel were found in Toronto and at this point the Ontario Provincial Police were contacted to assist. Sgt. Ron Young contacted Insp. C.G. Wilkinson in Sudbury and relay of OPP cruisers was set up to bring the parts to Chapleau. Sgt. Young sent a Chapleau cruiser to Sudbury for the final leg of the journey.
|F Card, T Way-White, Dr Young, MJM, E Gilbert|
Despite working non-stop, by Monday morning it still would not work so Reeve Terry Way-White called an emergency meeting of township council for 6:30 a.m. at the pump house. The full council of Councillors Dr. G.E. Young, F.A. 'Nick' Card, Ernie Gilbert and me were present.
Council declared a state of emergency and schools were closed while large users of water and residential ater users were asked to ration their use.
Bob Smith of Dominion Road Machinery in North Bay was contacted and he immediately travelled to Chapleau to help resolve the problem. Twenty-fours later it was determined that the injection system would have to be replaced, and Mr. Smith was able to find one in Toronto.
This time, George Elliott, Chief Forester of the Ministry of Natural Resources at Chapleau provided assistance by placing a Twin Otter aircraft at the municipality's disposal to rush the new injector from Toronto, and it arrived early Tuesday afternoon.
"At exactly one minute before midnight Tuesday (February 20), the diesel system was returned to duty and is now supplying the town with its normal pressure," the Sentinel reported.
And the break that started it all? After it was found, it was repaired and water thawing at homes affected was underway, although some with plastic pipes had to wait as they could not be thawed electrically.
Although all's well that ends well, there was considerable discussion at township council when meeting when Councillor Gilbert complained that as chairman of the public works committee he felt he should have been informed about the crisis when it first started rather than hearing about it on the street.
Councillor Card, who was a CPR engineer at the time, said he was told about it in Cartier, while Councillor Young and I agreed there should have been better communication with council.
Chapleau's new water plant opened in 1976. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org