Citizen group asks for public meeting on water wells health hazard study

Ground Water Canada
July 26, 2019
By Ground Water Canada
Chatham-Kent, Ont. – Citizen activist group Water Wells First is calling on the Ontario government to hold a public meeting and address what it calls "serious shortcomings" in its plan to carry out a health hazard investigation into private wells in Chatham-Kent.

The response was to an announcement earlier this week by Ontario Minister of Labour and MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex Monte McNaughton that the Ontario government would set up an independent panel to determine if the water from private wells in Chatham-Kent is safe for consumption.

"I suggest you hold a public meeting where our community which is so deeply affected by this issue can have an opportunity to raise these shortcomings to you," Jakubec said in a letter to McNaughton that he read during a press conference at a Chatham-Kent farm experiencing well issues. He added "This would be an excellent opportunity to engage our community in an open and transparent manner. Our community could learn from you all the steps and milestones that you intend to achieve in your health hazard investigation and be able to participate in an interactive and collaborative way."

"Will the Ford government task the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to undertake the role of collecting and analyzing the sediment and the associated microscopic sized particles of Kettle Point Black Shale we as a community found discharged into the impacted water wells?" the group asked, expressing concern that the investigation is being done outside of government.

"In Queen's Park on October 15th, 2018, you stood and announced your government tasked the Ontario's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Williams, to conduct a review of what the Ministry of Environment had found in its investigation," Jakubec wrote. He suggested the Ministry of Environment be ordered to collect and analyze sediments being discharged from the wells and asked the government to provide a timeline for the CMO's report.

Water Wells First, which has been seeking answers to well-water issues since 2016, asked if the investigation will determine the root cause of the sediment discharge in the water wells. The group, through Jakubec, said the AECOM Technical Memorandum reports mischaracterize the field observations at the time of well interference events and asked the government to look into the matter.

Among other questions the group is asking the provincial government: "Will your investigation included additional experts to fill the much-needed roles of having a Hydrogeologist, Geochemist and Seismologist?" and "Will your investigation include population screening for heavy metals exposure for all the families that use water wells in Dover and Chatham townships?"

Having a public meeting would address these and other shortcomings, Jakubec said.

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