Merritt pump station fails; locals asked to limit non-essential water use

People in Merritt are being told to limit all non-essential water use, after the city’s main water pump station failed.

The city says the issue at the Voght Well is affecting the water distribution system.

“No lawn watering permitted at all until the pump is repaired. Avoid all non-essential outdoor washing,” a notice on the city’s website reads.

“City water remains potable. Please be patient while repairs are underway.”

Cynthia White, chief administrative officer for the City of Merritt, tells CityNews a pump in the main well station failed overnight.

“We had some water spraying out. So not only has the mechanical part of the pump become an issue but, in the way that the pump stations were built when this one was commissioned, the electrical is in the same space, so the electrical systems were also impacted,” she explained.

White notes the pump station was shut down both for repairs and to dry things out so an electrical assessment can be done.

“The mechanical repair for the pump is going to hopefully be able to get done before the end of the day [Wednesday], possibly even today. We won’t be able to assess the electrical until it’s nice and dried out. That won’t happen until at least the end of the day today,” she said Tuesday.

Officials are asking people to help conserve water “to maintain our fire protection services.”

“Ultimately, what’s happening is that this is our main pump station, so it does most of the work to fill our reservoirs. Given that it’s not pumping, our reservoirs depleted overnight — not fully, but enough to be of concern,” White said.

She adds the city was able to get another pump online at another station to help ease the load. While “that’s helping,” White says, “the two pump stations that we have running don’t fill as fast and aren’t as big.”

The well failure comes as the region deals with a heatwave, with Environment and Climate Change Canada issuing warnings for much of southern B.C.

In the Merritt region, ECCC warns daytime temperatures will reach the high-30s and low-40s, with overnight lows in the high-teens.

With files from Srushti Gangdev

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