Maude Barlow joins fight against wind turbine construction in Chatham-Kent

Chatham resident, Lucy DeFraeye has been without running water for one week. She is one of 13 well water homes in Chatham-Kent that noticed black water spewing from her taps.

'You're probably in for a long fight, but you have to do it because this is your future'

A map of homes where residents have noticed black water coming from their water wells. (Meg Roberts/CBC News )

Chatham resident Lucy DeFraeye has been without running water for one week.

She lives in one of 13 well-water homes in Chatham-Kent that have black water spewing from their taps. She thought discoloured water was bad enough until last Sunday when nothing came out of the taps at all.

Her story and the similar stories of her neighbours prompted Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, to visit Chatham-Kent and support the residents in their battle for answers and clean water.

Residents believe that the impact of the North Kent wind turbine construction is behind the black water. The construction, involving pile-driving, has residents believing black shale and hazardous materials have leached into their well water.

"I cry everyday, I just cry, I can't believe someone would do that to another human being and keep doing it," said DeFraeye, who blames the sediment for clogging up the well, trapping the water inside.

Samsung and Pattern Development, the two companies behind the project, deny the construction has anything to do with the well water quality. The company says it has investigated and surveyed the site with no evidence of harm to the groundwater quality.

"The magnitude of the vibrations of the work has no consequences on the wells," said Storer Boone, who studies the impact of wind turbines on the ground for the companies involved in the wind turbine project.

Barlow said she isn't buying it. Barlow said she fully supports wind turbine energy but not when "people's lives, health and water are at risk."

Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians speak in front of Chatham-Kent residents who believe the impact of the North Kent wind turbine construction is behind their black water. (Colin Cote- Paulette/CBC News )

Barlow, who has seen water abuse in countries around the world and is the author of several books about the water crisis in Canada, said she has one message for the folks living in Chatham- Kent.

"You're probably in for a long fight, but you have to do it because this is your future, this is the future of your children and grandchildren, the future for water, it's the future of the ecosystem," she said. "If we don't come together and say no now, it is going to be destroyed in this area."

That is exactly what Kevin Jakubec, spokesperson for Water Wells First, plans on doing.

"We will continue trying to get the people in positions of power," he said. "We feel this is an absolute threat to our well-being to our children's well being."

Jakubec is also encouraging anyone in Chatham-Kent with well water to document the water and get a base line testing. He said the message is pretty clear: "We will not stop fighting."

Samsung has asked the court for an injunction after protesters blocked the entrance of the site. A judge is expected to issue a ruling Thursday.

In the meanwhile Lucy DeFraeye has completely lost hope she will see water run from her tap again.

"She's done, it's done," she said.

About the Author

Meg Roberts

Meg Roberts is a video journalist with CBC Windsor. Email her at meg.roberts@cbc.ca.