Tuesday, May 24, 2016


While the Elmira Aquifers are a geological and hydrogeological wonder, they are extremely vulnerable to manmade contamination. The volume of sands and gravel beneath the surface of Elmira capable of both holding and transmitting water were a gift to this community. This gift was not fully appreciated until after it was lost due to complacency, cowardice, greed and stupidity. These character flaws have been the hallmark of far too many of our Woolwich councillors over the last sixty years. Alas our citizens as well have not shown in sufficient numbers their appreciation for and willingness to stand up for our local water supply.

Uniroyal Chemical were still peddling the fallacy of impenetrable, impervious clay aquitards between the aquifers or water bearing zones beneath their site in the early 90s. First off they simply don't exist here in Elmira and probably not in Waterloo Region. Aquitards are a manmade term to describe subsurface zones of lower water transmissivity. Yes aquitards with substantial clay in them do indeed seriously inhibit water flow. They don't stop it, merely slow it down. Think about it for a second. If the UAT or Upper Aquitard stopped vertically downwards water flow from the Upper Aquifer then there wouldn't be a water bearing zone beneath it called the Municipal Upper Aquifer. Simialrily if the MAT or Municipal Aquitard totally stopped flow downwards from the Municipal Upper Aquifer then there wouldn't be another aquifer below it called the Municipal Lower Aquifer and so on.

There are two issues with our aquitards here in Elmira. Firstly they aren't made out of impenetrable, impervious clay. Mostly they are mixtures of silt, clay, sandy silt and silty sand. Honestly those last two terms are used throughout Elmira to describe Till units also known as Aquitards. The second issue are "windows" through the aquitards. In areas there are significant, horizantal low permeability zones which significantly protect the aquifers immediately beneath them. The problem is that groundwater flows both horizontally as well as vertically. Hence while the bulk of it (85-95%) may be flowing horizontally due to an aquitard beneath it eventually it comes to areas where either the aquitard thins out dramatically, or the composition of it becomes much more permeable or worse yet the aquitard totally thins out to zero. While windows have been discovered directly under the Uniroyal site, many others have been discovered throughout Elmira including near the Varnicolor Chemical site.

Thus even if the much smaller Varnicolor site were spared windows in their subsurface aquitards their contamination would still go both vertically downwards as we now know conclusively it has, plus it flows off site to the east in their surficial aquifer (SA) where it immediately hits a window as the SAT or Surficial Aquitard disappears. Varnicolor's Upper Aquifer flows westwards where it too soon hits windows through the UAT or Upper Aquitard. These windows give direct access to the Municipal Upper Aquifer, one of Elmira's drinking water aquifers. I am constantly reminded of the words of Dr. Gail Krantzberg (McMaster) who did consulting work for CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) in 2012. She advised that every drop of Uniroyal's liquid wastes that hit the ground or natural environment on their site, end up eventually being shared off-site.

Thus to those apologists, fellow travellors and co-opted citizens in Elmira as well as the Ontario Ministry of the Environment who have long wished to give Uniroyal/Chemtura 100% of the "credit" for destroying our drinking water aquifers; let me simply say "horse manure".

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