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A barge has severed the underwater line, shown here, carrying drinking water to a First Nation on Vancouver Island, forcing it to declare a state of emergency and ban the use of water for everything except flushing toilets. Work is underway to repair the line between Ucluelet, B.C. and the Indigenous community of Hitacu.HO/The Canadian Press

A First Nation on Vancouver Island has declared a state of emergency and banned the use of water for everything except flushing toilets after a barge severed a water supply line.

A message posted by the District of Ucluelet says the underwater line in the inlet between Ucluelet and the Indigenous community of Hitacu was damaged Monday, leaving the community without water for showers, drinking, cooking or fire suppression.

A statement from the Ucluelet First Nation says water is being delivered to the roughly 275 affected residents and trucks have been filling the community’s water tower to provide a backup supply.

It says the state of emergency can’t be lifted until that system is flushed and tested and the water is declared potable.

In the meantime, residents can fill water jugs at the community centre in Ucluelet and a local motel has made its showers available to those residents at least until next Monday.

The district says divers removed 300 metres of damaged water line on Tuesday and assessment and repairs are underway, but the line must still be returned to the inlet, anchored and flushed before the community has water again.

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