People aren’t the only creatures in North Kent forced to drink water containing black grit — animals are, too. Now, people are raising funds to test the water to find out exactly what that black stuff is, and whether is harming health of people and animals alike.
January 28, 2023
Sonny is a horse, a retired showjumper who now enjoys a quiet life on Christine Burke’s farm in North Kent, in the former Dover Township.
Like most horses, Sonny drinks water, lots of water: horses typically drink more than 20 litres of water…every day.
The problem is, the water on the Burke farm has been contaminated since construction began for wind turbines nearby, and continued after the wind turbines began operation. The wind power project was built on a designated “highly vulnerable aquifer” and is situate on Kettle Point Black Shale.
Today, well water for dozens of families is now turbid and contains black or dark brown grit.
Like everyone who gets their water from a well, the Burkes have a filtration system, but it can’t keep up. The filters are jammed within weeks of replacement.
The Ontario government has received complaints about the water since the Wynne Liberals were in power, with MPP Monte McNaughton famously crossing the floor one day to present then environment minister Chris Ballard with a bottle of the gritty discoloured water that looks like chocolate milk.
Residents complained to environment ministry, with little effect.
In a letter to Environmental Officer Deb Jacobs on June 14, 2018—obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario as a Freedom of Information request—hydrogeologists with the ministry commented on water samples:
“…the water samples collected from the XXXXX well during the March 7, 2018 sampling event exceeded the ODWQSOG Aesthetic and Operational Objectives for several parameters including turbidity, pH, total dissolved solids, alkalinity hardness, sodium, colour and iron….Operational Guidelines are established for parameters that, if not controlled, may negatively affect the efficient and effective treatment, disinfection and treatment of the water… The ODWQSOG also establish standards for parameters which when present above a certain concentration, have known or suspected health effects.”
The Ford government called for a review of the situation, the results of which were released early last year.
Water quality is poor
The Expert Panel came to three conclusions:
“The general water quality in the Study Area is rather poor as indicated by numerous exceedances for multiple aesthetic parameters.”
Comparison of results with those in a baseline study “strongly suggest a significant deterioration in general well water quality…consistent with well water interference having occurred within the Study Area since 2017, potentially due to construction and/or operation of the North Kent wind turbines.”
Comparison of the wells in the study area with results from a “reference group” outside “strongly suggests that well water within the footprint of the North Kent wind complex is of significantly lower quality”.
The Panel also could not conclude that health risks were present due to “unsafe concentrations of toxic chemicals in the water” but said several contaminants of concerns were identified, including lead, arsenic, and total coliforms.
The Panel recommended further sampling of well water to provide more data and cover a greater geographical area, and that further samples should “capture solid particles in suspension in well water.”
Testing needed now
After many months of waiting for the Government of Ontario to act, the people of North Kent are taking matters into their own hands.
On the advice of one of the science panel members, residents are embarking on a program to have samples of their well water taken by a hydro-geology specialist, and taken to a laboratory in the U.S. which will do a full analysis of the water and the sediment in it.
The question will be, what harmful substances if any (we already know there are) are present in the water, and do they pose a risk to health.
Donations toward the testing campaign which has a modest goal of just $12,000 CAD to test a few samples of well water, are being accepted by the community group Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns.
To use GoFundMe, link here: Fundraiser by Christine Burke : What is in Our Well Water Now (gofundme.com)
Or, to send a cheque, mail to: Wallaceburg Area Wind Concerns, 294 East River Rd Wallaceburg N8A 4L1
The results of this campaign will help not only the residents of North Kent, but any community in Ontario where wind turbines are operating on vulnerable aquifers, or where wind turbines might be proposed in future. It will help the animals, too.