Monday, March 10, 2014


The Wellesley Townships well systems consist of four different systems in the towns of Heidelberg, St. Clements, Wellesley and Linwood. All are on groundwater with very few obvious problems. In fact I am pleased to report that all four towns have test results from 2013 for these 2013 Reports as is appropriate. Somehow this obvious requirement has escaped the Region of Waterloo with so many of their other drinking water reports.

Of the four towns only Wellesley has a single well off-line at all. Well WY5 was off-line for 12 weeks during 2013. There were no significant expenses for repairs or updates and there is no explanation given for the shutdown. This is worrisome and similar to many wells in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, requires clarification and explanation. Without specifics on well shutdowns this can lead citizens to lose faith that these annual drinking water reports are complete, honest and transparent.

The Heidelberg system consists of two wells namely HD1 and HD2. There were no shutdowns, no detections of chemicals; nitrates and sodium are low and the results are all from 2013. Therefore why am I about to give a major warning regarding their water supply? It has to do with my increasing state of knowledge and hence concern regarding their longtime contaminated site in the middle of town. At the intersection is a former gas station which has been attempting to collect LNAPL for many years. LNAPL or light non-aqueous phase liquids simply means gas/diesel free product floating on top of the water table. That these gas or diesel products have not dissolved into the water table is due to their relatively low solubility and due to their volume. Simply put more was leaked/spilled into the natural environment than can readily dissolve into the groundwater. Eventually (years/decades) it will eventually dissolve but for that length of time many toxic chemicals will be in the groundwater. What I don't know is the direction of shallow groundwater flow and the location of the two drinking wells (HD1 & HD2).

It gets a little more complicated and the Region should be clearly telling the whole truth to local residents in these reports. Firstly even if the wells are upgradient from the normal groundwater flow direction there is a problem. In Elmira the north wellfield which is upgradient from Uniroyal/Chemtura was shut down due to NDMA contamination. Basically pumping wells produce a somewhat circular cone of influence which can draw even downgradient contamination back towards themselves. The second issue is even more concerning. The province in their infinite wisdom have allowed municipalities a huge loophole in regards to reporting contaminants. Many, many ubiquitous industrial liquid contaminants are simply ignored as if they do not exist. This includes what are known as BTEX chemicals. These are the most common constituents of gasoline and diesel fuel and are Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes. While it is bad news to ignore them at all I suggest that it is downright negligent of the Region to do so when they have a former gas station under extensive longterm remediation.

The St. Clements system has somewhat elevated Nitrates however they do not exceed the drinking water standards. That being said individuals with heart or other serious health concerns should doublecheck with their doctors as to whether nitrates are an issue for them. At a second glance one of their two wells was off-line for only a single week. Without further information from the Region I would assume the best and think that this was some form of routine maintenance. Everything else appears normal with however a couple of slightly elevated Method Detection Limits for a few chemicals. Again without further info from the Region it's difficult to determine anything from that.

The Linwood Well System consists of two wells and overall everything appears to be good. Nitrates and sodium are reasonably low, the test results are all from 2013 and neither well was shut down during 2013. Similar to the St. Clements system there are a few chemicals with slightly elevated MDLs which may or may not be pertinent to anything. Again BTEX chemicals and many others are missing but unfortunately this is a shortcoming throughout all of the Region's Annual Drinking Water Reports.

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