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Water well problem remains in Dover

A community group fighting to protect water wells from a future wind development in Chatham Township isn’t forgetting there’s an existing problem in Dover Township that still needs to be addressed.

Kevin Jakubec, leader of Water Wells First, said his position hasn’t changed since he first began talking about this issue back in February.

Noting the problems landowners in Dover have experienced with their wells since wind turbines started being erected in the area, he said, “we should be investigating Dover, understanding what happened there and fixing Dover before we build anymore wind farms in this area.”

While many problems with turbidity and sediments showing up in water wells in Dover are traced back to a wind farm erected three years ago, Marc St. Pierre said problems with the well on his Bay Line property first started showing up nine years ago when the five wind turbines were erected near Mitchell’s Bay.

“At that time, I started seeing this silver colour in my water, so I thought my well was going bad,” he said.

St. Pierre said he spent $8,000 on a new well, but it didn’t solve the problem.

However, about three years ago, when a wind farm by Kruger was built the water from his well began coming out black in colour form the taps.

He has a double filter system to clean the water coming into his home. While the water is clear, St. Pierre said about two years ago, he and his wife decided to start buying bottled water for drinking and cooking since they don’t know what’s in their well water.

“But, we still bathe in it and wash our clothes,” he said, adding they are concerned what contaminants may be entering their bodies through their pores.

Dover resident Peter Hensel, who says his well seems to be sealing off, is disappointed at the lack of action on this issue.

He said since the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change issues the licenses for wind farms it “should be looking after our interests.”

Noting some of these water wells have been perfectly fine for 100 years or more, he questions, “what all of a sudden makes them change?”

The Chatham Daily News contacted the MOECC to ask if it has an obligation to investigate if several wells in an area are showing similar problems with sediments and turbidity in the water.

An e-mailed response from the ministry stated: “The MOECC is responsible for providing compliance oversight of wells and does respond to complaints if the complainant believes there may be impacts to their well from offsite activities.

“We encourage residents to contact the MOECC local area office if they experience sedimentation or high turbidity in their wells as a result of an offsite activity,” the statement added. “Reporting these incidents enables us to document complaints and perform appropriate follow-up with the home owner and the proponent.”

However, many also believe the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has not done nearly enough to help solve this problem.

St. Pierre said when he was part of a delegation that addressed council about this issue at the Aug. 22 council meeting, “nobody seemed to care” when he and others shared the experiences they were having with their wells.

“I was hurt by that and it kind of told me: City council is not there to help me,” he added.

Mayor Randy Hope said the concerns raised when the original five turbines went up in Dover were mainly about noise.

Prior to the issue being raised recently, he said, “there’s been nothing brought up to us (council) in the magnitude that it was, at any point in time, about water well issues.”

The mayor added there are several turbines in other areas of Chatham-Kent and no concerns have been raised about water wells in those areas.

Jakubec says people who received filter systems from wind companies or have a wind turbine on their property are under confidentiality agreements.

Hensel said many farmers try to solve problems themselves. He added it’s only been since Water Wells First came along that people are starting to share with others the issues they are having with their wells.

St. Pierre said he’s attempted to talk to neighbours about their wells and found many were reluctant to speak for fear an agency would deem their water unfit and they would have to move or news of it could decrease their property value.

He remains frustrated that his once good well – that even passed the scrutiny of the Children’s Aid Society to allow him and his wife to foster 87 children over 15 years – is now so bad even his cats won’t drink it.

St. Pierre understands vibration dampening equipment can be put on turbines. He would like to see this technology installed to examine if the water in the affected wells clears up.

If it doesn’t, he believes the wind turbines should be shut down.