March 22, 2017. Beverly Crier interviewed by Chris Stewart from APTN.
Bev: I’ve been on a boil water advisory for a long time. I have to buy my own water.
Question: How much do you spend a month? Bev: Well, it depends? I go to Canadian Tire and my Mom gets it delivered. I don’t want to throw money away. So I recycle. I buy my water in town and I go once a week. About four or five of them. It costs three dollars a bottle to get filled up. Guide: And your spending money on gas to get to town. Bev: The other thing is I don’t have to pay for my water, but then I have to spend at least ten dollars to get free water. In actuality it’s not a savings because I’m still spending money out of my pocket to buy water at this place. Guide: Don’t forget when we buy it here when we doing something in the community.
Bev: What I had to do was buy a box of this type of chemical. That cost came out of my own pocket. This chemical comes in these little tablets that I put into my tank. You’ll come and take a look at my tank downstairs and you’ll see what it looks like on the inside. I had a problem with my toilet. It got unhooked. I renovated my bathroom about two or three years ago at the most. So I flushed the toilet and all of a sudden the water didn’t go down. So I had to take the toilet cover off and when I opened the toilet cover, it had this slime to it. I didn’t want to smell it. I was horrified at what I found and I was shocked. I thought, ‘What the heck!’ So I put my hand in it. I was in shock so I wasn’t thinking when I did that. I thought it was the float because it didn’t flush. I put my hand on the float and I broke it. It was piece of plastic. It was probably from the weight of the slime that was attached to it, I don’t know! So check your toilet tank. So what I ended having to do was call maintenance and they came over. It was actually the plunger that I broke. The chain had unhooked but I made it worse by touching it and then it fell down. So I would never do that again. I had to clean my toilet tank out. I had rubber gloves on and was using bleach and I wiped off all of that slime. Chris Stewart from Aboriginal Peoples Network Television (APTN): Thank you very much for doing this. Bev: Your welcome. Chris: Bev how long have you lived with a Boil Water Advisory (BWA)? Bev: I’ve lived with a Boil Water Advisory probably from about 2003. Chris: Have you lived here all this time? Bev: I have been here all this time. Actually I’ve lived with a Boil Water Advisory for a long time because I use the same well that I grew up with in my original home which is down the road from here. When we opened the pipe up it smelled like oil. It was slimy. So I’ve always lived with a Boil Water Advisory for as long as I can remember. When I was married and lived off the reserve and came back to visit, we would carry water to drink while we were here. When you turned on the water tap it would explode. Then finally the water would come out. The water was creamy and kind of slimy looking. So it’s always been like that. Chris: I think it’s officially that Samson has been on the Boil Water Advisory since 2010? So this has been going on for a long time. Bev: This has been going on my whole life actually. Chris: So how do you get clean water? Bev: How do I get clean water? I buy my drinking water. I use this water for my cooking. I’ve set up a water filter down stairs in home. I’ve had to purchase these buckets of this poisonous chemical, it’s in tablets and every three months I throw in the tablets into my water tank. Out of that I use that water to do my laundry and bathe. I’ve grown accustomed to purchasing that water because if you never knew anything about my home and my water problems and you came here and showered you would feel the slimy kind of, oily residue from the water. But now I’m used to it. Chris: Let’s talk about the drinking water. Obviously you don’t drink it. Bev: I do not drink my water. I’ve been advised to boil my water to do cooking. So I’ve just gone beyond that. Now I only use the water that I’ve purchased to cook and wash my vegetables. I’m an organic person. I buy organic vegetables. Everything that comes from the grocery store like apples, oranges, they do not soak these foods. So you fill your sink full of water and put the vegetables and fruits in there. I can’t do that. I have to use the water that I’ve purchased because I can’t clean anything with the tap water. I have to clean the water to use it. Chris: How disheartening it is, I mean, it’s probably an everyday fact of life now? Bev: It is. It’s normalized now because I’ve done the best that I can, and as a home owner I have to take care of my home and function like everyone else. I have a water well outside and once a year when I can assistance of my brothers, take off the cap, and I believe my water well goes down well over three hundred feet I believe. Then they drop these tiny marble sized pellets down to clean the water. I never thought about it. I was visiting there and my sister and I were talking and she said, ‘I have those packages. Do you need to put some more in your well? So I said sure come on over and I happen to read the back of it and it’s so toxic and poisonous. Your not supposed to inhale the product. Your supposed to wear rubber gloves while you are using it first and a mask and here I am just using it. I just happen to be lucky when I was using my gardening gloves before because when it touches your skin it irritates it. That’s how toxic it is. Now I’m thinking, ‘OK, what am I going to do about my water? I have to do something but I don’t know what the next step is. Chris: Who lives here with you? Bev: My daughter lives here with her fiancé and my granddaughter and she just turned one. Chris: You saw last week the Alberta government announced one hundred million dollars over four years? Bev: I read the title but I haven’t read the actual article itself. I would like to use that program and see what it can do for my home and also the home next door where my Mom lives. My Mom still has that where you turn on the water tap and it explodes. Sometimes when your not careful it’ll splash all over. You get your clothes wet and face wet. We got used to opening it softly so that pressure doesn’t splash us. Then we open them up wider to get that flow. Chris: How would this change things? Bev: It would make my life a whole lot easier. I wouldn’t have to buy and use all these toxic products to throw down my well. It would feel really nice. When I happen to stay in a hotel when I’m working, it’s a luxury for me. I would say, ‘I love this water!’ My skin would feel good and I would want to stay there as long as I can. That luxury is not available to everybody. I’m just fortunate that I have a job and I can do this. I want to take care of my house because I live here and want to maximize it because I don’t want to put myself on the housing list. If I lose my house, if I don’t take care of it, I’m going to be on the waiting list. So I’m going to do everything I can to take care of it. Chris: So the government is saying over four years they will give one hundred million dollars. At the end of the day they’re hoping to have every Boil Water Advisory in Alberta gone. Bev: Very good. I love that. The other thing I’m thinking about is our neighbors, the farmers and ranchers. They have been farming our property in the back and raising different types of crops. Livestock also lives there. I don’t know how many. All of that water since I was born has all gone down into this system here. I don’t even know if we were to test the dirt. What kind of chemicals they’ve been using to farm our land and all the drainage that’s been coming from the ranchers who live next door. And how long that’s been going into our water system. So that’s another big question. I don’t think it’s a part of this discussion but it concerns me now because we’re living in a society and in a time where we are conscience of what we eat and how we live. We’re conscience of the water and now water is becoming an economy. You have companies like Nestle making billions of dollars on water. Not only that, there’s so many individual products in one plastic bottle. Watch television and you’ll see all those one use products and then they end up in the ocean or into the water. You have turtles that are skinny like this [makes a shape like a bottle] but the shell has grown. They’re shaped like the number eight. We have to think consciously about what we use. We can’t use one time products. Chris: Are you looking forward to the day when this happens when your able to turn on your tap and drink right from there? Bev: I would love to do that. I would absolutely love to do that. For once in my life I would here in my house I would love to do that. Chris: Thank you so much. Bev: Thank you.
Story By Guide Fleury