With a recent change in its leadership, and a different provincial government in office, a grassroots organization is considering its next steps to protect water wells in North Kent.
However, exactly what the group will look like in the future, and what its focus will be, remains to be seen.
Water Wells First held a community meeting at Country View Golf Course on Tuesday, with more than 30 people in attendance.
The group began raising concerns in 2016 about the potential impact the construction of the North Kent Wind Farm, now in operation, would have on wells due to Kettle Point black shale and the shallow aquifer in the area.
More than 20 water wells have reported significant amounts of sediments that have clogged up the flow of water during construction and after operation of the wind farm began.
However, Jessica Brooks, the group’s new spokesperson, said it’s difficult to gauge the exact number of wells currently impacted.
“I just know that there are more people out there,” she said.
Brooks, who also had a well impacted, took over the role from Kevin Jakubec, who announced in December he was stepping down to spend more time with family.
Crediting her predecessor for his work, she gave a rundown of the group’s experiences, which included an environmental tribunal, a blockade at the site and increased public awareness.
Brooks said she’s looking for direction from the community on what Water Wells First needs to do next.
“Now, we’re kind of at a crossroads,” she said.
The owners of the wind farm – Korean industrial giant Samsung and its American partner Pattern Energy – have maintained that the project isn’t responsible for the issues experienced by residents.
While the group is looking to the future, Brooks urged anyone impacted to have their wells tested.
She also urged people to file for a reassessment of their properties with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation – and to be patient.
“It’s a slow process,” she said. “Everything to do with government is just slow.”
Brooks expressed disappointment that they’re still waiting for a health hazard investigation from the provincial government.
“(It’s) a very specific type of research,” she said. “I’m wondering what’s happening there.”
The province has said it will honour its campaign pledge for a study. However, a date is yet to be determined.
Jim Blake, communications officer for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, also spoke to the gathering on Tuesday.
He said councillors want to help with the situation, adding he hopes for improved communication.
Blake also reiterated the importance of people telling their stories and testing their wells, noting it will “give (council) the ammunition.”
Well testing can be arranged free of charge by contacting the municipality at 519-360-1998.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding