The frustration continues for a Chatham couple, whose water well has gone bad shortly after nearby wind turbines began spinning, leaving them relying on bottled water and family.
Now they have learned the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is leaving it up the consultant hired by the developers of the North Kent Wind farm to determine if they have a right to have a source of water provided to them.
“It’s just like getting punched in the gut,” Jim Leveille said on Tuesday, just over a week after the problem with their water was reported to the MOECC on Feb. 26.
“They’re supposed to be there to help us, aren’t they?” Leveille added.
Several water wells in the area of the North Kent project have become clogged with sediments, which the grassroots citizen group Water Wells First believes is caused by vibrations during construction and now operation of the wind farm, stirring up the Kettle Point black shale in the aquifer.
An email the couple received from MOECC district manager Mike Moroney stated the ministry takes concerns about water quality very seriously and it is holding the company accountable for addressing complaints.
However, the email also states: “With respect to your concerns regarding the provision of water, the Renewable Energy Approval for North Kent Wind 1 only requires the company to provide an alternate water supply if the qualified expert provides a detailed written opinion indicating that the construction, operation or decommissioning of the wind farm facility caused or may have caused impact to the well or well water in question.”
An email to Chatham Daily News from the MOECC also stated if the assessment confirms impacts on water quality as a result of vibrations due to wind turbine operation, the company would be required to provide an alternative water supply at that time.
Water Wells First spokesman Kevin Jakubec said the ministry has “reinterpreted” the conditions in the North Kent REA permit that there is now no requirement for the company to provide an alternate water supply.
“It is ridiculous for the company’s consultants to first find fault for the corporation they are working for and then, and only then, provide water,” he added.
Jakubec also points to a recent public statement by environment minister Chris Ballard promising to work with residents to secure an alternate source of water.
Moroney’s email to the Leveille’s stated the provision of water during the construction phase of North Kent Wind was a “proactive measure taken by the company on their own initiative and not a requirement of the Renewable Energy Approval.
“It (is) at the discretion of the company if they wish to take a similar approach to dealing with well water impact complaints during the wind turbine operation phase,” the email added.
The MOECC email to The Daily News stated the company has advised that they are currently working with those homeowners to discuss options for addressing the alternate water supplies that were provided.
However, on Tuesday, Jakubec played a voicemail message from a MOECC staffer that was received by Jessica and Paul Brooks, whose water well went bad last year, that their water tank will be removed.
Jakubec said the battle over the issue is going to Queen’s Park on Thursday when it will be announced at a press conference that the University of Windsor will join the citizen group in its investigation of the ongoing water well issue.
“Clearly, the government, if they wish to continue hide this and wish to try to cover this up, are going to find that is impossible,” he said.
Angie Leveille is leveling blame at Kathleen Wynne for this problem.
“The sense of abandonment I feel by my province is profound,” she said. “I trusted you would do the right thing, Kathleen.
“I trusted you would actually believe what we were telling you,” she added. “I trusted you would do something to prevent this from happening to more families. You betrayed us. You believed those wind companies over your own people.”
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