Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley wants residents in north Chatham-Kent concerned about the impact of wind turbines on their water wells to get answers.
Municipal council recently backed a motion brought by Wesley to have Mayor Randy Hope send a letter to Glen Murray, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, requesting the MOECC provide some expertise on this matter.
Wesley told The Chatham Daily News on Thursday that to be clear, this has nothing to do with the North Kent 1 or Otter Creek wind farm projects, or the citizen group Water Wells First per se.
He said talking with local water well owners “it was very clear to me that there is some concern, uncertainty and confusion out there.”
He noted this stems from the fact North Kent Wind is conducting tests of water wells in its project area and Otter Creek Wind Farms also plans to voluntarily do water well testing. He added Water Wells First is also doing water well testing for a fee.
Wesley said he’s asking the MOECC minister to convene a meeting, which the municipality will help set up.
“I want their experts to come down and give good advice to the local water well owners on what testing they should have done,” he said.
He also wants to determine if that testing is being done now or whether additional testing should be taking place.
“I want the minister to state categorically that the local water well owners should not be paying a single cent to get their water wells tested,” Wesley said.
Having heard from several landowners that they have had good water wells for decades, he said they question “why should the onus of that cost be on them? And I agree, it should not be.”
Water Wells First spokesman Kevin Jakubec indicated he will be issuing a response to the media on Friday regarding the municipality’s letter to the MOECC.
The citizen group has expressed concern that the vibrations from constructing and operating turbines built on the Kettle Point black shale bedrock in the area will stir up dangerous heavy metals such as uranium, arsenic and mercury in the groundwater aquifer that will permanently damage water wells in the area.
While Wesley doesn’t know whether the wind turbines are to blame, he said, “there is something going on with some of these water wells.
“If we at least do the proper testing then the water well owners will be protected and maybe we’ll find answers to what’s going on,” he added.
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton also sent a letter to the environment minister supporting the letter sent by Chatham-Kent.
It read in part: “Your ministry has given environmental approval for the construction of wind turbines on land where it may not be safe to disturb the aquifer either by subsurface pile-driving or by surface vibration.
“There is prima facie evidence that some drinking water drawn from wells in North Kent is no longer potable,” he added. “I do not believe that under the circumstances in this case local water well owners should be liable for the costs of their own well testing in wells which were pure.”
The Daily News contacted the MOECC about this issue on Thursday.
An e-mail from the ministry stated: “We are reviewing and carefully considering the mayor’s request. The ministry will provide a response to the mayor directly in the near future.”
The MOECC also noted this is the first time it has received a request to provide information, in a public forum, on groundwater and wind farms in the Chatham-Kent area.
“Ministry staff have met with residents and responded to letters regarding concerns about the impact of wind turbines on groundwater. We welcome the opportunity to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information.”
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