OPINION: Water woes

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Potentially toxic black sludge was pulled from the bottom of the pressure tank of the well system belonging to Dover resident Laurier Cartier. The grassroots group Water Wells First is funding testing of the water to determine the levels of heavy metals in the water from Kettle Point black shale that makes up the bedrock under the aquifer. Neither the municipality nor the province has taken water samples despite the concerns of area residents.

We are curious. Isn’t every resident of Chatham-Kent created equal? 

So why is it when rural residents in North Kent reported well water issues, politicians just looked at one another, but when the Wheatley water treatment plant caught fire, our municipal and provincial politicians and civil servants leapt into action?

Residents served by the Wheatley plant, which suffered a fire last September, did suffer through several weeks of a boil water advisory in the wake of the fire, and the plant will remain closed for months as repairs are conducted.

But municipal officials quickly enacted a work-around, with the help of Leamington, to get potable water flowing to impacted homes and businesses by early October.

In between, trucks brought countless skids of bottled water for impacted residents.

And in North Kent, despite a change in the provincial government over the years, complaints from residents whose well water became undrinkable after construction began on wind turbines in their area, and continue to this day, are left with clogged pumps and having to make their own arrangements to truck in potable water.

For Christine Burk, a member of Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns, and others, it’s been hell.

They first dealt with the Wynne Liberal government nearly a decade ago, and demanded a health hazard investigation be conducted into their water supplies. They fear, with good reason, that their water is contaminated by heavy metals, and drinking it could be adverse to their health.

Kathleen Wynne and company didn’t listen. Enter Doug Ford in 2018. On the campaign trail, at a stop in Chatham-Kent, he pledged to investigate matters if elected.

Well, he is still in power, and the North Kent folks with fouled wells are still waiting for the proper investigation. It took several years for them to get any action, but what was conducted was an all-hazard investigation that didn’t look deeply enough into the particulate issue.

Even one of the experts on the all-hazard panel, geologist Keith Benn, said more needed to be done.

He’s still saying that.

Now the matter is before the Ontario ombudsman. Will that office take any action? If it does, will the Ford government listen?
North Kent residents shouldn’t hold their breath as they apparently are going to continue to be treated like second-class citizens.

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