The owner of a Chelsea spa said he's not having any problems with his water supply, even though neighbours who share a local aquifer with his business have reported wells going dry in recent years and worry about their future water supply.
Martin Paquette, who owns Le Nordik spa, said he's paying to drill a new well for his neighbour, the Soup'herbe restaurant to be a good neighbour, but the fact that the restaurant's well ran dry has nothing to do with his spa.
"We tried to help them because we don't have any water problem," said Paquette, whose business opened two years ago.
Marcel Gavreau, whose home backs onto the spa property, said water has been a "major concern" for his neighbours since construction began a few years ago on the spa, which features cold and warm water baths as well as a cold water waterfall.
Paquette said a waterfall in front of the spa is supplied by rainwater that is cycled through, while the bath water is trucked in by tankers.
Other water used by the spa is pumped from its well at a constant rate, 24 hours a day, Paquette said.
He acknowledged that wells don't perform as well in Chelsea as in other nearby municipalities, but suggested that better water management is the solution.
In the case of Soup'herbe, he thinks the original well wasn't deep enough.
Water fears political: spa owner
He suggested that well water concerns are being raised to bolster political opposition to proposed new developments in the area such as Chelsea Creek, which would tap 200 new homes into the same aquifer.
"I think a lot of people are putting a lot of pressure on the water situation to stop those developments," he said. "Is it a real water problem?"
Nicole Paulin, who lives east of a field where the development company for the Chelsea Creek project proposes sinking its well, said she is worried about sharing the aquifer with another 200 families.
About four years ago, one of her family's two surface wells went dry and they had to pay $17,000 to drill a new one.
"We're definitely concerned we're going to run dry again," she said. "[With] development and a hot summer, I could definitely forsee having a problem in the future."
Government officials have said there is enough water to go around, but as of late Thursday afternoon, no one at the municipality was available to comment.
Robert Chaffers, a former civil engineer who sits on the municipal planning committee, said he's confident officials have tried to take the right steps to evaluate the water supply.
"But I'm not very confident in the results of the engineers' reports," he said.
Chaffers said standard formulas used in predictable soil conditions aren't applicable in the type of rock beneath Chelsea, and a lot of crucial information is unknown, such as the location, number and interconnectedness of water-filled fissures in the rock.
A referendum on the Chelsea Creek development is to be held later this fall. The development company, InHarmony, wants to build on former farmland at the corner of Highway 5 and Old Chelsea Road.