Water well baseline testing ‘inconsistencies’ concern WWF

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Water Wells First is encouraging water well owners to install a sediment trap on their pumps, like the one shown on Marc St. Pierre’s pump, to collect sediment samples for the hydrogeologist WWF has hired to provide in-depth analysis of the particulates that meets chain of custody requirements that can be upheld in a court of law.
Water Wells First is encouraging water well owners to install a sediment trap on their pumps, like the one shown on Marc St. Pierre’s pump, to collect sediment samples for the hydrogeologist WWF has hired to provide in-depth analysis of the particulates that meets chain of custody requirements that can be upheld in a court of law.

Baseline water well testing being conducted for well owners in the North Kent Wind 1 wind turbine project area has members of Water Wells First very concerned.

At a press conference recently, WWF spokesperson Kevin Jakubec showed the media results of the well testing done by wind farm consultant AECOM on the well water of Larry Meyerink, whose property is in the project area.

The report back from AECOM to Meyerink said his well water exceeded Ontario Drinking Water Standard parametres for hardness, total dissolved solids, sodium, colour and chloride, and advised them to notify all users of the water and contact the Public Health Unit (PHU) for “advice and further information.”

“This made Larry very upset because he thought his water was bad, because the PHU usually tests for health concerns such as E. coli bacteria,” Jakubec said. “Why are they being asked to contact the Public Health Unit?

“With the baseline testing being done by AECOM, WWF has taken the position that we need to be vigilant in how it is being done,” he added.

Checking on the turbidity of the wells being tested, one of which was Jakubec’s own well, he said AECOM is using a portable turbidity reader, but not consistently at all homes according to the feedback from well owners.

He also said when his well was tested by AECOM on Jan. 23, the portable reader gave back a reading of 31.0 NTU, the units used to measure turbidity. Yet when he gets his water tested weekly by a private accredited lab in Windsor, his results just a week later came back at 0.4 NTU, a huge discrepancy in numbers. The AECOM remarks on the clarity of the water however, said it appeared clear and odourless.

When Jakubec asked the technician at his property about the discrepancy, he said he was told the portable readers weren’t always accurate. His own testing has come back consistently between 0.1 and 0.4 NTU. With turbidity of water, the higher the number, the greater the number or particles in the water.

“I’m not the only one. There has been an inconsistency in testing at individual farm wells and we have had complaints about it come in to WWF,” Jakubec explained.

When residents are signing the field parameter test document, Jakubec is advising people to ask for a copy of that document to be given back with the testing results from AECOM so they can have a record of it.

“The well owner should be able to obtain a record and have the right to challenge if there is a discrepancy and have the file changed to show it was challenged,” Jakubec said. “If the results from AECOM field parameter test for turbidity and private lab testing consistently don’t match, we will ask the Ministry of the Environment to strike them from the record.”

“We want to make sure there are no biases and we are concerned there is one with AECOM. Why are they using a portable field tester for turbidity in some cases instead of just collecting samples of testing?”

He said the concern among well owners is that the wind turbine company is trying to make it look like wells are already bad before any pile driving begins.

The biggest question for WWF right now, its spokesperson said, is if North Kent Wind 1 pile drives (anticipating 15,000 piles for the entire project) to put in the turbines, will wells go bad, and if the first two do go bad, will the project be shut down? Jakubec said that is a question he would like Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to answer.

He also intends to ask that question of Samsung, a partner with Pattern Energy in the North Kent Wind project. Jakubec has plans to travel to the North Kent Wind offices next week, which happen to be on the second floor of the Samsung building in Mississauga.

“I am taking our concerns directly to them, and hope they have concerns as well,” Jakubec said.

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