The frustration is palpable as Wayne and Valerie Brooksbank wait for staff from Aecom, the engineering firm hired by the developers of the North Kent 1 Wind project, to arrive to test their water well, which has suddenly gone bad.
The Chatham Township couple have samples of sediment-filled water and a filthy well filter that’s clogged with sediment, along with more than $4,000 in independent tests results to provide as proof of what happened to the once crystal-clear water that came from their well.
When turbid water started flowing through their taps last Saturday, Wayne Brooksbank checked his well pump and found the one-micron filter was plugged solid.
The couple called the Ministry of Environment and Climate Control to launch a well interference complaint, since the problem only began after pile driving began to construct an industrial wind turbine for the North Kent Wind project.
They say someone from the MOECC showed up to test their water, but wouldn’t comment when they asked if the water was safe. They also claim the ministry employee said that some of the particles in their water was black shale.
Brooksbank has lived on Countryview Line since he was born in 1946 and said, “I’ve never seen cloudy water.”
Valerie Brooksbank added, “I used to have people come out and get my water to take to town . . . to make their coffee and tea, because mine was always better.”
The Chatham Daily News was present and observed the testing process when Aecom staff arrived at the Brooksbank’s home Thursday morning to take water samples.
The real concern for the couple is just what’s in the sediments that are both floating and swirling around the bottom of the glass jars containing water samples they took from their tap last Saturday.
When asked if Aecom will test what’s in the sediments, the Brooksbank are told the developers of North Kent Wind – Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy – have only authorized the firm to do water testing.
When asked if they could take a sample of the sediments to show the wind developers, they are told Aecom would have to take their own samples, which would require a specialized sample container.
The Aecom staff headed outside to take water samples from the raw water that is coming from the well, which is bypassing the filtration system they have in place.
However, it is required that the system be flushed for five minutes.
The system is actually flushed longer, then when the Aecom officials go to take their water samples, it begins to rain heavily.
Not wanting the samples to be contaminated by the rain water, it is decided the samples will be taken after the rain has subsided. Meanwhile the water continues to be flushed from the well system and more than 40 minutes later, samples are taken.
Kevin Jakubec, spokesman for the group Water Wells First, takes a video of the sampling by Aecom and asks what each sample taken will be tested for.
An Aecom employee confirms one of the tests for various contaminants doesn’t include testing for the presence of arsenic, uranium and lead, which are the heavy metals known to be present in the Kettle Point black shale bedrock in the area that Water Wells First has been sounding the alarm about.
Another concern that is raised is the fact Aecom is taking water samples from the Brooksbank’s well a few days after pile driving has stopped and they have noticed that the sediments in their well are not at the same level.
When asked if Aecom will come back and take samples of the well water while pile driving is taking place nearby, the response is Aecom will have to ask the wind developer.
The Daily News contacted the MOECC on Thursday to ask if the ministry would consider taking a sample of the sediments property owners say is impacting their wells due to pile driving activities for the North Kent Wind project.
This is a part of the response received by e-mail:
“The ministry is aware that the shale of the Kettle Point formation underlies the area. The aquifer used by private wells in the area rests on this bedrock. The groundwater has historically flown through an aquifer made up, in part, of Kettle Point shale granules and private wells in the area rests on this bedrock. Well water quality testing prior to wind turbine construction shows that turbidity in the wells is associated with naturally occurring groundwater conditions.
“If the company receives a water quality complaint, they are required to follow a number of steps identified in the Renewable Energy Approval to address the complaint. As part of the ministry’s science based approach, North Kent 1 was required to conduct well water quality testing prior to wind turbine construction. The company will continue monitoring for vibrations throughout the duration of the construction phase, as outlined in an approved vibration monitoring plan.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding