Chatham-Kent to cover cost of baseline water testing

People concerned about their water wells in the north Kent area can now get baseline testing done for free.

Farming families accuse pile-driving for black sediment in their drinking water

Chatham-Kent approved a motion to cover baseline water testing for residents. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

People concerned about their water wells in the north Kent area can now get baseline testing done for free.

At this week's meeting, Chatham-Kent council approved a motion to cover the cost of water testing.

Councillor for that area, Leon Leclair, said he sympathizes with the families whose well waters have become undrinkable and said they need to find out more about why it's happening.

"There's nothing that's jumping out at us right now," said Leclair. 

Residents who have complained of finding black sediment in their well waters have blamed the construction of wind turbines for disrupting bedrock and pushing it into the water.

"It's a big coincidence that there's quite a few wells, the quality is not there and the gallons per minute are not there anymore and since construction," said Leclair.

Farming families are upset with the government after receiving a report that appears to clear North Kent Wind Farms, owned by Pattern Energy, of water contamination complaints.

Ontario's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) concluded that while the water quality of some wells in Chatham-Kent has changed, the construction of wind turbines was not to blame. 

"The MOECC says it's nothing to do with the windmills, so we're just trying to make sure we're protecting our citizens. You know, we're not laying blame," said Leclair.

Residents can choose from a list of 17 labs that do water testing. The only stipulation is they must share the results with the municipality.

U Windsor offers help

​University of Windsor professor Joel Gagnon hoped to look into the matter himself. He's the department head in earth and environmental sciences.

"Our role here is to try to do good science and to come in with a fresh set of eyes and as much objectivity as we can bring to look at these challenges," said Gagnon. 

"It's initially going to be a training exercise for students in the field and then as we build up our own datasets and see what's available from other parties we can develop a clearer picture."

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