Friday, March 7, 2014


I've been recently posting here regarding the Region of Waterloo Annual Drinking Water Reports for Cambridge and Waterloo. Today is Kitchener's turn.

The Woolner Well Supply is located on the west side banks of the Grand River, downstream from Safety-Kleen in Breslau and the former Pompeii and Forwell wellfields. The Region would have us believe that those wellfields were closed in the mid 90's due to the world's most powerful bacteria. The Woolner wells have been problematic for many years due to both algae and possibly phenols (guess from where) causing taste and odour problems. It would be unseemly to drop this well system too quickly from the reports so it is being allowed to die a natural death. In the last few years it's been shut down intermittently but in 2013 it didn't run at all.

The Strange St. Well System consists of five wells. This system had Trichloroethylene in it as long ago as 1986. This past year four of the five wells were shut down without explanation. Well K11A and well K18 were off-line for 29 weeks, well K13 for 13 weeks and well K19 for 47 weeks! These wells are geographically spread out and are pumped into the Strange St. reservoir. This should sucessfully dilute individual contaminants but obviously there are still problems. The test results published are for 2012 not 2013. There are also chloramines (disinfectant by-products) that routinely exceed half of the drinking water standards for them.
The Greenbrook Well System consists of five wells also. Wells K1 and K2 were off-line for 34 weeks each and well K8 was off-line for 26 weeks. This kind of puts a perspective on lawn watering and other water restrictions doesn't it? This well system is located east of the former Ottawa St. Landfill site. A few years back this wellfield was shutdown completely while special treatment was installed due to the presence of an industrial chemical namely 1,4 dioxane. Interestingly liquid solvent wastes including 1,4 dioxane were being dumped into the Ottawa St. Landfill by Varnicolor Chemical (Elmira) in the 80's and early 90's. This occasioned only a minor scandal at the time and the Region promised to tighten up their inspections of incoming loads. Too little, too late. Now we have the scenario whereby a known contaminant to regional drinking wells is not being routinely tested and reported in the Annual Reports. This also applies to NDMA which has been found both in Elmira and Cambridge. I suspect it's everywhere else in the region but you'll never find what you don't test for.

The Parkway Well System is located near Fairway Rd. and Manitou Drive. It consists of three wells and they (K31, K32, K33) and the Parkway Reservoir were off-line for only five weeks in 2013. Despite that regular pumping and useage the bulk of the test results are from 2012 instead of 2013. Through contaminant "management" via purge wells, shutdowns, dilution etc. most of these drinking water reports can eliminate detections of contaminants. This system had a low detection (.6 ppb) of trichloroethylene last year. This is hardly surprising as the former Deilcraft plant was remediated nearby many years ago and it had slightly enriched the groundwater.

Lastly we have the incredibly expensive Mannheim Water Treatment Plant and Pumping Station. My calculation from their numbers presented is $9.5 million in repairs, maintenance and upgrades not including two items that I recognize as Elmira expenses. This system consists of eleven wells, an Aquifer Storage & Recovery System as well as water from the Grand River. Well K91 was off-line for 5 weeks and well K29 for 29 weeks. What I find disconcerting are the much higher MDL's (method detection limits) for their testing results. High MDL's can be used to hide a multitude of sins and if that's not what they are being used for we should be advised as to the why. Numerous toxic chemicals have MDL's much higher than anything I've seen this year in the Waterloo or Cambridge Water Reports. The good news is that the Region of Waterloo have actually included 2013 test results for this well system in their 2013 Annual Drinking Water Report.

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