Excess arsenic has led Langley Township engineers to cut off public access to water flowing from the Murrayville Pumphouse at Five Corners.
Langley Township announced the shutoff this week, and signs have been posted on the pumphouse advising people not to consume the water.
The pumphouse was built in 1928 to provide water for the original Belmont School and the former municipal hall, which was nearby.
In its early years, people from nearby homes came by to collect water from the overflow trough outside. In more recent years, since being designated an official heritage site, it’s been a spot on local history tours.
The pumphouse was shut down in 1982 when the school joined the municipal water system, but water continued to flow and emerged from an external pipe at the pumphouse.
A Township press release says that concerns were recently brought forward regarding the quality of the well water.
“The well’s water is not tested for water quality parameters and has not been considered safe to drink,” said the notice from the Township engineering department.
Professionals tested the water and found elevated levels of arsenic, exceeding the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. The guidelines mandate no more than 0.010 mg/l of arsenic in drinking water.
Arsenic in low quantities can cause cancer.
The flow of water from the pumphouse has now been redirected so the public can not access it.
“Township staff, with the assistance of a qualified professional, are working to find the best long-term solution for the well, including (but not limited to) water treatment, continuing to restrict public access, or decommissioning the well,” according to engineering staff. “None of the proposed options include decommissioning the heritage structure.”