Well water survey report insufficient, owners say

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A long-awaited investigation into the impact of the construction and operation of the North Kent wind farm on the area’s water wells has failed to meet the expectations of two members of the Water Wells First group.

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Jessica Brooks, whose family has been hauling water to their home for five years, said she appreciated the 22-page report on the all-hazards well water investigation in Chatham, released on Monday, notes that the Well situation has worsened since the turbines were built and construction could be a factor in this problem.

However, she added, “I was hoping for a bit more clarity in terms of ‘Can I drink the water or not?'”

Although the report notes that there are no widespread health risks, Brooks said the report does not provide a definitive answer.

Concerns were first raised in the summer of 2016 about the potential to impact water wells ahead of the construction of 34 industrial wind turbines in the North Kent Wind area, located in much of Chatham Township . Residents pointed to problems with sediment clogging of water wells that have occurred during the construction of wind turbines in the area.

Shortly after construction began on the North Kent project, several people began reporting water wells clogged with sediment, the cause being blamed on piles driven into the Kettle Point black shale aquifer to erect the turbines.

Kevin Jakubec, who was one of the founders of the citizens’ group Water Wells First, wonders why Dover Township’s water wells weren’t part of the investigation.

Jakubec cites a promise to Water Wells First received from Doug Ford ahead of the June 2018 election that a health risk investigation will be conducted regarding black shale particles that have clogged water wells in areas of the townships of Chatham and Dover where the wind turbines are operating.

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A group of experts has been set up by the Ministry of Health to undertake the study.

Although the report cites nine wells tested outside the North Kent wind boundary, it said it did not include the large area of ​​the East St. Clair wind farm where people had experienced well problems long before the people of Chatham Township.

Brooks said even residents of Dover Township thought they would be part of the study.

“I don’t know where the communication problem was,” she said.

The report cites the lack of participation from well owners as impacting the investigation.

Jakubec was among the many owners who did not participate.

Calling the scope of the investigation a “bait and switch,” he said, letters sent by Englobe, the consultant hired to carry out the investigation and testing, to well owners do not indicate “what parameters will be tested, why they were selected, what laboratory methodology they will use or give any indication of the survey design.

He said many well owners did not participate because they felt left in the dark about the issue.

Brooks, who participated in the survey, points out how long the process took to explain why many people did not want to be part of the survey.

“I think at this point a lot of people are skeptical and frustrated,” she said. “I think a lot of people are just tired and done with it.”

She added that they had found a solution to their water problems, such as installing cisterns, and were moving on.

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Brooks also noted that water testing was due to begin last winter just as the province was heading into another lockdown. She said people were worried someone would come into their homes during the pandemic.

The report recommends the need for further study, which includes collecting more solids in the water.

“That’s been our concern all along,” Brooks said, citing a particular study his family paid for in 2018. “That’s what we were looking for and that’s not what we got.”

As for next steps, Brooks said she doesn’t know where this is going, nor does she know who to contact to ask these questions.

Asked about the report citing the potential for well interference caused by the construction and/or operation of North Kent wind turbines, Jakubec said there was enough in the report for the Department of Environment publicly states that it acknowledges that water well interference has occurred. .

“Something happened here,” he said. “And what happened here was indeed interference with the construction and operation of the North Kent Wind Farm.”

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