Thursday, March 6, 2014


I've posted three times in regards to the City of Cambridge Annual Drinking Water Reports. These are in fact produced by the Region of Waterloo and mandated by provincial legislation. Since the very early 1990's Elmira and St. Jacobs have been supplied water via a pipeline from the City of Waterloo. Waterloo's water comes from three sources namely the William St. Well Supply, the Erb St. Well Supply and finally from the Waterloo North production field. This third source has been very problematic with well W5A not even mentioned anymore and well W10 off-line for several years and whose latest test results are from 2005.

The Erb St. Well Supply consists of four wells namely W6A, W6B, W7 and W8. Well W6A was off-line for all of 2013 and 2012. While the other wells were functioning throughout 2013 nevertheless the test results are from 2012 with the exception of Nitrites and Nitrates (2013). Well W6A is the most northerly of the four wells in the Erb St. Well Supply and while no explanation is given as to its' absence I have a sneaking suspicion. Literally for decades I did not understand how the, at the time, leaking Erb St. landfill was not affecting these and other wells. Since then a leachate control system has been installed however as usual well after the fact and well after it was needed. As a result the K-W Record have carried a few stories relating to a plume of contaminants that has left the Landfill property and affected at least one nearby private well. This combined with admissions in the Region's Grand River Source Protection Plans make me suspect that they have been "managing" contamination from this location similar to their "management" of contaminant plumes in both Cambridge and at the William St. Wellfield in Waterloo. This management can consist of purge wells to intercept contaminants before they get to the other wells and or dilution via blending wells together in reservoirs.

The William St. Wells consist of wells W1B, W1C, W2 and W3. Well W3 was off-line for all of 2013. The test results for industrial and agricultural contaminants are all for 2012 with the exception of Trichloroethylene (TCE) which are from 2013. TCE has been an issue in the William St. Wellfield since at least 1991. Probable sources may include former local industries such as Canbar, Sunar and possibly Seagrams. Currently the "management" of TCE includes a purge well at the former Seagrams site which intercepts some of the TCE as well as blending the William St. wells together. Finally the shutdown of W3 while not explicitly stated probably is also relevant. TCE is tested for mostly on a monthly basis although occasionally on a weekly basis. It is always present albeit below Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS).

For these Annual Drinking Water Reports to be honest and transparent, far more information is required. Detailed information as to why any production wells are off-line needs to be provided. Test results should always be for the year being examined in the Report, not for prior years. That is just ridiculous. If contamination is being "managed" that should explicitly be stated rather than it being buried on-line in different reports. Also why does the Region of Waterloo shield corporate polluters who have impacted the publics' drinking water supplies? Lastly this whole idea of "managing" toxic chemicals in our drinking water is flirting with disaster. Even with treatment and dilution what other currently unknown industrial chemicals are in our raw groundwater that do not respond to current treatment mechanisms? Recall that NDMA wasn't found in Elmira until the very first time it was tested for in 1989. It also required separate treatment as the standard activated carbon doesn't remove it.

No comments:

Post a Comment