Editor: It was my pleasure to participate as a member of the expert panel on the recent All-Hazard Investigation of Well Water in Chatham-Kent.
The expert panel provided advice and expertise for the investigation of well water from within the North Kent 1 industrial wind complex where some residents had raised concerns regarding water quality, during and following wind turbine construction.
The Expert Panel’s Final Report was made public earlier this year as reported in the Chatham Voice (April 20).
The investigation did not identify the presence of widespread health concerns related to well water quality within the North Kent 1 study area. However, as stated in the final report, the rather limited number of wells that were sampled did not allow for a high level of confidence in the determination of potential health hazards, or lack thereof, throughout the study area.
The results of the investigation did, however, suggest a significant deterioration in the general quality of well water as indicated by statistically higher levels of iron and turbidity, as well as by higher concentrations of suspended solids (sediment) when compared to those same parameters reported in a pre-construction baseline study.
Unfortunately, the sampling process for the 2021 investigation was not efficient in capturing the fine-grained sediment from the well water, hence its composition remains an open question. In my own opinion, that question should be addressed for the following reason.
It is a reasonable hypothesis that the fine-grained sediment within the well water could be derived in part from the Kettle Point black shale bedrock that underlies the aquifer in the North Kent 1 area and that is also known to be present as glacial till at the base of the aquifer. The Kettle Point black shale is known to be enriched in potentially toxic components, notably lead and arsenic. It follows that the sediment should be properly sampled and analyzed for the presence of potentially toxic substances and if such were identified, then studies of bioavailability of those substances might be called for.
In closing, I continue to hope that the relevant branches of the Government of Ontario will continue to investigate the potential for health hazards associated with well water in areas of industrial wind turbine complexes in Chatham-Kent.
Dr. Keith Benn