Monday, May 30, 2016


I got into some light reading on the weekend. It was a 1966 Report by the Ontario Water Resources Commission. They were the predecessor to our current disasterous Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The title of the Report is "A Water Resources Survey of the County of Waterloo".

A couple of commonalities throughout Waterloo County including both the rural and urban water supplies are that no tretment of the water was needed. Whether bacterial issues or industrial ones our underground aquifers had as yet not been comprimised either by animal or human sewage (coliform & E.Coli) nor by industrial discharges including solvents into the ground. The other commonality was that all the separate towns and cities were already looking towards either one of the Great Lakes or the Grand River for future water use. They also acknowledged that there would be greatly enhanced water treatment required for either of these surface waters.

Regarding the Elmira area, the OWRC knew exactly what industries were in town including textiles, furniture, farm machinery and chemicals. Early on there were complaints of odour and taste problems due to iron bacteria in a couple of the wells. In hindsight whatever the extent of the tastes and odours from iron bacteria perhaps they served to mask real health issues in the water from local industries.

The bacteriological quality of the water courtesy of both human and livestock had always been "satisfactory" nevertheless there was talk of both iron removal and the use of chlorine to eliminate the odour and taste problems. This is not the first time that I have heard of chlorination essentially to mask other taste problems.

The Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) came on line in 1965. Immediate problems arose from both Borg Textiles and Robin Textiles. Their liquid wastes were filled with fibres from their textile operations and were clogging various portions of the equipment at the STP. Naugatuck Chemicals (Uniroyal) had large volumes of high strength chemical wastes which required pretreatment in order to balance their PH as well as not overwhelm the bacteria used in the STP.

Both the predecessors to Nutrite (Yara) and Sulco (CCC) were also mentioned in this report. They were called Elmira Fertilzers Ltd. and Elmira Acid and Chemical Ltd. at that time. Creek water samples were taken at the Arthur St. bridge upstream of the STP and were affected by the Gordon Yonge outfall. Could Gordon Yonge have been the predecessor of the Great West Felt Co. now known as Walco?

There were further problems with two local industries upsetting the processes within the STP. It was hoped/expected that these could be overcome internally by these two companies. While Borg is not mentioned here as one of those companies they were named later on in a GRCA document as having damaged the bacteria used within the STP processes.

Dairy wastes as well as meat packing wastes were a problem in Kitchener and apparently Silverwood Dairies was also a problem in Elmira with their direct discharges to Canagagigue Creek. It is quite amazing to me how much was known by our local authorities in regards to which companies discharged which wastes either directly into the "Gig" or indirectly through the STP first. Odd isn't it that they allegedly couldn't figure out the bad industrial apples here in Elmira who eventually destroyed our drinking water aquifers?

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