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Wind turbines impact on groundwater to be discussed

A town-hall style meeting is scheduled for Aug. 10 at Country View Golf Course to discuss issues with wind turbines affecting groundwater in the former Dover Township.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The meeting is being organized by Water Wells First, a grassroots organization that has concerns about the impact that the pile driving construction and subsequent operation of the wind turbines will have on water wells in the proposed North Kent Wind Project area.

Those concerns are due to what has happened in the former Dover Township area. A number of people have come forward and said families have suffered from turbid waters ever since a wind farm was constructed in the area a few years ago. A number of people said they have experienced the dirty well water due to the vibrations from pile driving during construction, which they say caused sediment to be disturbed and polluted their aquifer.

Water Wells First said Dover Township residents continue to have dirty water due to the ongoing operation of the turbines, which results in seismic coupling – resulting in ongoing sediment problems.

Water Wells First said it isn’t just a little bit of sand in the water, as it is enough to destroy water pumps and make the water completely undrinkable.

Water Wells First spokesperson Kevin Jakubec said the entire area in North Kent has the same hydrology, so it’s likely that the entire area is at risk of having their groundwater contaminated by the wind turbines, similar to what has happened in neighbouring Dover Township.

“Dover has shown that there is sediment coming up,” Jakubec said.

Jakubec said wind turbine companies have offered home owners in Dover Township water filtration systems.

“I think there is an admission of some responsibility, then why would they do it?” he questioned.

Jakubec said the dirty water is not a natural event, something that they have confirmed with local well drillers, adding there are concerns about what is in the sediment.

Jakubec said he has brought this issue up to the provincial Ministry of Environment.

“The MOE has not done any sediment analysis. We find that outrageous.”

He said the MOE has admitted that if they determine that construction, operating or decommissioning of a wind turbine causes an adverse affect to someone’s well water, the company should take care of it and pay for it.

“Right there, you see the recognition by the ministry that it is possible that a wind farm can impact a well. There is an implicit recognition of that,” Jakubec said.

The North Kent Wind Project is looking at bringing in 200 construction jobs and generating $9 million in economic benefits for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

The North Kent Wind Project is owned by Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and Pattern Energy Group and is also slated to provide $5 million in tax revenue over 20 years, or $250,000 annually.

The project was slowed down last month after Jakubec filed an objection to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) permit. This will result in a tribunal hearing on Sept. 21 where a judge will be asked to correct the errors in the permit.

The North Kent Wind Project is set to begin later this year, and in its first phase will include 40 to 50 wind turbines generating 100 megawatts of power, spanning a large area from south and west of Dresden to just north of Chatham.

The second phase is slated to include 20 to 40 turbines that will generate 50 to 100 megawatts of power.