The Coronach RCMP are investigating a break-and-enter that occurred at the Coronach Water Treatment Plant sometime between the evening of March 6 and the morning of March 7.
The break-in was discovered by a worker during a routine daily inspection on March 7 and reported immediately to local police. Matters are currently under investigation, and no further comments were available from the RCMP.
Catherine Mackay-Wilson, the town administrator for Coronach, issued a do not drink water advisory on March 8, under the direction of Andrew Hickey, Environmental Project Officer with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency. There are suspicions that the town water supply may have been contaminated with toxic chemicals or other harmful substances.
Under Hickey's advice, the water tower, two water reservoirs, and all connecting water lines were flushed - not once, but twice - over the course of the week. The water advisory was lifted on March 12, and life slowly began to return to normal in Coronach.
Mackay-Wilson praised the residents of the town of Coronach for their patience, tolerance, and cooperation through this whole ordeal. She noted that the current and ongoing $1.6 million upgrade to the water treatment plant was not yet completed when this incident occurred.
She also emphasized that the perpetrator(s) could have been in serious danger of injury or death had they entered a secure room where toxic chemicals and poisonous chlorine gas are stored.
Mackay-Wilson confirmed that an Emergency Response Plan was in place at the time, and proper protocol was followed, due in part to Hickey and the Water Security Agency. Extra precautionary security measures have now been implemented.
Town of Coronach water trucks provided necessary water to local residents for drinking, cooking, and bathing during the water advisory. In total, 554,000 gallons needed to be dumped in a time consuming and expensive effort to restore the town’s water supply. Some 200,000 gallons of water were released from the town’s two reservoirs, 180,000 gallons from the tower, and 174,000 gallons from connecting water lines.
As of this moment, no one knows for certain how much this senseless act of vandalism will cost the residents and taxpayers of Coronach.
On a more positive note, in an interview under bright sunny skies and warmth of the afternoon sun, two young and energetic dog walkers echoed Mackay-Willson's gratitude, and had high praise for the fine folks of Coronach.
“It was just so amazing and awesome,” they said, “the way that everyone came together as a community to make the best of a horrible situation.”
Any residents that have information on the above incident, or any other crime in the area, are encouraged to call Coronach RCMP @ 306-267-1830. Residents may also call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
This story has been updated to clarify the order issued by Catherine Mackay-Wilson was a do not drink water advisory.