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Keno City residents frustrated over damaged well

Keno City residents are feeling frustrated that they still have no local water supply after their well was damaged during routine cleaning last July.

Keno City residents are feeling frustrated that they still have no local water supply after their well was damaged during routine cleaning last July.

Mike Mancini, president of the Keno Community Club, said the Yukon government has offered little information about plans for the well.

“We all feel that we’re in the dark,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going on.”

Keno’s well was damaged in July, when Whitehorse-based Midnight Sun Drilling tried to scrape down and clean the column of the well and accidentally caused a partial collapse deep down in the well.

The incident caused dirt and rock to fall into the aquifer, so the water now contains a high level of sediment.

The government initially spent several months pumping large volumes of water out of the well in an attempt to get rid of the sediment. But that didn’t work, and in mid-October, it started purging the well more slowly and taking samples every two weeks. The hope was that the well would eventually clear up.

But that still hasn’t happened. In the meantime, water is being trucked in three times a week from Mayo.

Mancini said that was fine during the winter, but residents are getting worried now that the tourist season is starting.

He said tourists typically use a water tap at the local fire hall to fill up during the summer, but that’s not working now.

A local shower house that supports the community and the campground is already running out of water, he added.

“The domino effect ... is that our whole infrastructure is non-existent for the tourists this summer.”

Mancini said he spoke with Dwayne Muckosky, director of community operations with the Department of Community Services, three or four weeks ago about the issue. He said Muckosky told him he was waiting for consultants to give him an update on the situation.

But Mancini said the department hasn’t been very forthcoming about plans for the summer. He said members of the Keno Community Club met this week and plan to write a letter to Community Services expressing their concerns.

“We need to get this straightened out, one way or the other,” he said.

Muckosky told the News there are no plans to increase the number of water deliveries to Keno. But he said that Keno residents are still getting the same volume of water delivered as they have in past years, since there have always been three weekly deliveries from the Keno well.

He said the only notable difference is the tap at the fire hall. That tap draws directly from the Keno well, so it’s no longer functioning.

Muckosky also said that all water sampling results are being sent to Keno residents by email to keep them in the loop.

Right now, the water samples are still showing high levels of sediment and metals. But Muckosky said there are signs of improvement.

“It appears at first blush that the water is stabilizing,” he said. “But we still have more samples to collect.”

Muckosky said the department needs to build up enough data to decide whether upgrades to the Keno water treatment plant will be needed to make sure the well water stays clean and safe.

“We do believe that in the not too distant future we will have enough data to make a determination,” he said.

Jim Tredger, MLA for Mayo-Tatchun, raised the issue in the legislative assembly on Tuesday.

“There seems to be no money in this year’s budget to provide a long-term solution for Keno’s water well replacement,” he said. “The residents of Keno are fed up with the seemingly never-ending problem.”

In response, Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said residents should contact him or his department if they’re not satisfied with the information they’ve been given.

“Obviously having the well not in service is not an ideal situation and it’s one we’re trying our best to solve,” he said. “In the meantime, we are going to continue to truck water from Mayo.”

Contact Maura Forrest at