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Fix for yellow tap water in Gatineau may still be years away

The tap water in Lyne Danis’s west Gatineau, Que., home has been yellow-coloured for five years, and it could be another few years before the problem is cleared up.

The resident of the Deschênes sector said she doesn’t drink her own tap water despite assurances from the city that it’s safe. Nor does she like to wash dishes and clothes with it.

“You can’t … do your laundry at the time you want, you can’t run your dishwasher at the time that you want,” she told Radio-Canada in a French interview.

“When we get up our first instinct is [to run] cold water in the bath … to have clear water as soon as possible.”

A woman fills a glass with water from a tap in her home.
Danis says she’s been calling the 311 help line about the colour of her water since 2018. (Patrick Foucault/Radio-Canada)

The problem, which the city has said is because of aging pipes, has led to complaints from people living on dozens of streets in various parts of the city.

Some took their concerns to city council earlier this year, saying they tested their water and found unsafe amounts of iron. Danis went to speak to council last month.

“I would love for something to happen, but when is it going to happen?” she asked. “We have no idea.”

No clear timeline

The city launched a 10-year plan to fix the coloured water in 2017.

It says it has 17 kilometres of infrastructure work to do and its $22-million budget won’t cover it all. The work may not be completed before 2028.

According to Versant Coun. Daniel Champagne, president of the city’s executive committee, provincial funding would help.

“We cannot do it alone, so we need to work together and find sources of funding to be able to fix this situation,” he said.

The city also has another $8 million to add to its proposed budget, slated for a vote on Dec. 5.

“This is good news,” Champagne said, “but in fact it is very little compared to the challenge we face.”

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