GAIL MARTIN, Independent Editor
Wells that were once used by Elmira residents for drinking water are not owned by the Region of Waterloo, and will not be restored when Elmira’s drinking water meets provincial drinking standards.
That message came from Eric Hodgins, Region of Waterloo manager of hydrology and Source Water Protection, who provided this message while updating CPAC members on the Source Water Protection strategy.
At the Sept. 28 meeting, Hodgins told CPAC members that the provincially mandated strategy does not apply to the Elmira wells, because it does not meet the criteria, and because the contamination has already taken place. The Source Water Protection Program is designed to prevent future contamination of wells, and does not speak to situations in which there is already contamination.
Hodgins added that anything in the program does not override the work or authority of the Ministry of the Environment, which is already overseeing the cleanup of Elmira’s contaminated groundwater.
Councillor Mark Bauman told Hodgins that one of the questions CPAC members had was around former drinking supply wells E7 and E9, and whether the Source Water Protection Program would apply. Bauman noted that there is a car dealership and truck repair area near those wells.
Hodgins said the wells wouldn’t qualify, since they are former water supply wells and are now owned by Chemtura, as part of its groundwater cleanup program.
“They do not qualify under the regulations,” said Hodgins.
Well E10, however, at the south end of town, is still owned by the Region, and is being protected in hopes of being used as a future source of water for Elmira.
Elmira environmentalist Allan Marshall questioned Hodgins further on this, expressing surprise that the Region no longer owns these wells.
“So, in other words, it’s conceivable that even if the inconceivable happens, and the groundwater is cleaned up by 2028, the public, the Elmira public, don’t have wells E7 and E9 for their own water supply.”
Hodgins said that the Region has E10, and could drill additional wells near E7 and E9, when the drinking water is again available.
“There would be water available, but we wouldn’t put any resources into finding that now, until the remediation is complete.”
Hodgins told CPAC members that if additional wells are brought into the system, an entire environmental assessment would need to take place prior to bringing any wells online, and it is likely that monitoring would need to take place before the wells are put into use.
“There would be a number of steps we would have to look at before starting up the wells,” said Hodgins.