Friday, May 25, 2018

ANNUAL REPORTS (DRINKING WATER) FOR WOOLWICH



I covered the West Montrose System last Saturday. Today will be the Conestogo and Maryhill Systems. Heidelburg is shared between Woolwich and Wellesley (Region of Waterloo). Heidelburg has surprised me for years that despite the major groundwater contamination and ongoing remediation at their downtown corner (former Mayor Strauss gas station); their drinking wells seem to be unaffected. I expect Mr. Strauss that that is much more good luck than good management on your part.

Both systems in Conestogo, the Golf Course System and the Conestogo Plains System seem clear of any problems according to the reports.
That is odd given the small Grand River influence on one of the Golf Course wells. I would have expected to see more bacteria in the raw water. Also I'm pleasantly surprised by the lack of bacteria in the Conestoga Plains wells based upon the conglomeration of septic systems all around the wells. Again perhaps better good luck than good management. Kudos to the Wellesley Township Reports as they actually have the quarterly readings of both Haloacetic Acids (HAA) and Trihalomethanes (THM) included. This is unlike Cambridge and Woolwich townships who make you go looking for them when they should be included directly in the region's Annual Reports.

What also seems odd is that the Conestoga Systems (presumably both?) are going to be replaced by the incoming pipeline from St. Jacobs and Waterloo bringing water up from the Integrated Urban System (IUS) used throughout Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. While the raw water problems in West Montrose certainly demand a replacement source and it is the same pipeline then being extended over to West Montrose; it is peculiar that Conestogo allegedly has such good water yet it's also being replaced. I have to wonder if this is the Region being the Region. Once found to be liars and deceivers it's a long road back. They out and out lied publicly about the Kitchener river wells K70 & K71 along the Grand River, downgradient from the Breslube (now Safety-Kleen) site in Breslau. Those wells were closed and it wasn't due to the strongest bacteria in history it was due to leakage from subsurface oils and petroleum sludges between the factory and the Grand River.

The Maryhill two water systems are generally quite acceptable in quality. There have been past problems with bacteria but they seem better in this report. Unfortunately chloramines, a disinfectant by-product are a little on the high side in the one system. They aren't above the maximum criteria of 3 mg/litre but they do rate attention and are singled out because they exceed 1/2 the criteria for inorganic compounds. It is understandable based upon past bacteria issues in the raw water that they are shading the treatment a little on the heavy side with this chlorine compound.

The following comment is not specific to the Woolwich water systems. All these reports from the Region of Waterloo lack the exact Ontario Drinking Water Standards (ODWS) with each chemical tested in the treated water. They have a simple YES/NO to indicate if that standard has been exceeded. This is unacceptable as residents do not know how close the chemical comes to exceeding the criteria plus they also do not know if the Method detection Limit (MDL) provided is reasonable or not in regards to the drinking water standard. My comments and criticisms over the years to both the Region and Woolwich have provided for some improvements in these Reports. Well done but more still needs to be done for these Reports to serve residents better.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

MORE CAMBRIDGE DRINKING WATER CONCERNS & ISSUES



First some big picture items. Far too many of the Cambridge wells are identified by number only. That is totally ridiculous to enable residents to know if their closest wells likely supplying their households are up to snuff in comparison with other raw water sources around Cambridge. While well systems such as the Shades Mill System and the Pinebush System may be helpful in letting residents know where their water is coming from, listing wells by number only such as G4, G5, G6, G9, P6, P9 is totally unhelpful and in fact downright deceptive. Give an address or something so residents know which wells are better and which are worse. For example which wells are located near the former Ciba-Geigy (Novartis?), which are near the Cambridge Landfill, which are near Northstar Aerospace etc..

Way too many Cambridge wells are MIA -missing in action. No explanation, no idea as to whether they were polluted, what they were polluted with (bacteria, solvents etc.), whether they have a mechanical breakdown that will be repaired etc.. It would also help if the Region's on-line Annual Reports (drinking water) went back a few years as they used to rather than only posting two years worth and then advising to contact them directly for older reports. On-line reports are supposed to save everybody time and energy not give them the runaround. Speaking of runaround where did these Cambridge wells go and why? P2, P5, P6, P7, G10, G11, G12 and G13? O.K. I know what happened to the two wells closest to Northstar Aerospace (P6 & P7) although that's no thanks to the Region of Waterloo.

Getting back to all the Annual Reports for the different wells and well systems in Cambridge I have a bone to pick with the Region and the City. The Annual Reports have recently added a column for HAA results. That's right HAA. Any idea what the hell that is? Well it stands for Haloacetic Acids which are toxic by-products of disinfection. Similarly THMs are Trihalomethanes which are also toxic by-products of adding chlorine to the water ie. the disinfection system. However the Annual Reports may have a column for HAAs and THMs but they don't have a concentration present. There is a reference to the individual municipal reports claiming that that is where they can be found. What the hell, put them in the Regional Annual Reports where they belong. Anyways after some serious digging I found them. Sort of. In the City of Cambridge Annual Report they have a single concentration for ALL the wells for the YEAR. Yup it's an annual average of all the Cambridge wells for the entire year. That folks is lying by numbers as it's totally useless.

Oh and I found another well to add to yesterday's list of wells shut down either entirely or for numerous months in 2017. That would be well G9 which again no thanks to the Region of Waterloo, I know where it is located. It is in the south end of Cambridge not far from the Allen-Bradley plant. This well has historically had low levels of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in it for decades. Maybe the levels have risen, maybe something else has been found, who knows. It was shut down for the entire year.

Numerous Cambridge wells have allegedly been twinned. G4 now has G4A combined with it. Similarly H4 has H4A, H5 has H5A, G5 has G5A. My strong suspicion is that the original wells are contaminated with either industrial or agricultural chemicals and the second twinned well is screened at a different, less contaminated depth in the aquifer. This may be bolstered by the fact that there have been low levels of contaminants in the Hespeler wells for decades (H3, H4 & H5). Also as mentioned yesterday three Hespeler wells are either decommissioned (H3) or shut down for the whole year (H4 & H5). Finally well G4 was shut down for 40 weeks last year and well G5A for the entire year. This twinning of the wells ie. adding a second well at the same location has only been going on for the last five years or so.

Finally I need to also point out that Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup continues to have an outrageously high Method Detection Limit of 25 parts per billion (ppb). Advising us that Glyphosate is <25 ppb (less than 25 ppb) is shameful and outrageous and I don't care how high the current drinking water standard for Glyphosate is. We have a right to know what is in our water and if it's there at 5, 10 or 15 ppb. then tell us directly!

Just for the record there are also two low level detections of a herbicide (metalochlor) and a solvent (dichloroethylene) at wells G6 and G5 respectively. It is no coincidence that these two wells are both near the old contaminated Ciba-Geigy plant.

Overall we are all drinking highly treated groundwater due to a history of negligent toxic waste disposal (& spills) by industry with Mickey Mouse enforcement and remediation if and when it is found.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS IN CAMBRIDGE



Everybody got water in their taps over in Cambridge these days? Boy you'd never know it by a quick glance through the Region of Waterloo's Annual Reports (drinking water). It was almost like an extension of the long weekend yesterday when I checked out a bunch of Cambridge drinking water wells. P6, closed and DECOMMISSIONED. H3 DECOMMISSIONED. H4 off-line for 52 weeks in 2017, H4A off-line for 9 weeks. H5 shut down for 52 weeks in 2017, H5A shut down for 29 weeks. P16 shut down for 52 weeks. Good lord and all I had time for was a quick glance at some of the wells in the first line plus a peek at the next line (of 4) which was the Middleton wells.

Hopefully over the next week I'll find time to look at the rest of Cambridge's wells but it looks to me as if the chickens of Cambridge's industrial past combined with our authorities (ie. municipal & regional politicians) has come home to roost. Polluter pays is a dandy slogan regarding remediation of contaminated ground and groundwater. The reality is that our politicians would rather sleep with polluters (figuratively) then fight them in court. A century of machine shops, textile factories, heavy and light manufacturing, dry cleaners, plastics and chemicals manufacturing, gas stations etc. have all done a major number on Cambridge's groundwater. The Region have and will continue to deny it but the wells seem to be falling faster and faster.

Mind you the Region are pretty sneaky about it. They appear to prefer to simply stop pumping contaminated water into their treatment system for a period of several years before declaring a well to be decommissioned. P6 up by the Bishop St. community (& Northstar Aerospace) is one example. It not been contributing water to the system for a few years now. Check out the various chemical testing dates they have in this years final Annual Report for this well. I believe the last testing for various chemicals including Trichloroethylene was 2011. Holy crap. How many other wells have simply disappeared from these Annual Reports over the years? How many more should disappear based upon chemical contamination? The Region used to have several years of past results on their website. Now it's 2017 and 2016 only although they allege that they will provide earlier dates if you ask them nicely.

I'm pretty confident that in upcoming Annual Reports we will see wells H4, H5 and P16 decommissioned. May as well as they aren't providing water anyways.

So what is the good news as per the above title to this posting? Well if you've still got water it's courtesy of the IUS or Integrated Urban System. The Region have pipelines between the three cities so that we all will have water even as individual wells bite the dust. That way we can continue to share Trichloroethylene, Glyphosate (Round Up) and other chemicals in our groundwater equally. Ever wonder why we are pumping out Grand River water and paying a fortune to treat it? Sort of like the Middleton Wellfield which had $210,000 in replacement costs last year but continues to distribute trichloroethylene (TCE) at 1.5-2.0 parts per billion in our taps. I'm not in favour of a Great lakes pipeline but when the time comes, then our politicians will be singing a different tune regarding the "quality" of our groundwater.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

GRASSY NARROWS AT ELECTION TIME


Last Saturday's Waterloo Region Record carried the following story titled "Ontario leaders pledge to clean up mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows". Yes every provincial election there is more talk about doing what should have been done thirty years ago. The parallels with what is going on here in Elmira are amazing. The time frames are similar. The players are similar (Ontario Ministry of Environment) as are some of the contaminants namely Dioxins as well as Mercury. The result in both communities includes toxic river sediments and contaminated fish.

The mercury is courtesy of Reed Paper dumping 9,000 kilograms of it into the river back in the 1960s. There were further studies done a year ago that included one suggesting that there may still be ongoing leakage of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system. This is in part because mercury concentrations have not decreased in the last thirty years which would have occurred otherwise through dilution and uptake by fish. Similarly here in Elmira concentrations of Dioxins/Furans and DDT are not decreasing in the Canagagigue Creek since the major investigation back in 1995-97.

I reported here about Grassy Narrows issues on February 19/17 and March 1/17. Over another year has passed with the Liberal government promising money and claiming that preliminary work is starting. That "preliminary" work apparently includes efforts to stop the ongoing leakage of mercury into the river. They've known where it's coming from for over a year (at the very minimum) yet they haven't physically isolated or removed the source. What the hell!

Then they are the Progressive Conservatives under Doug Ford. He stated that a Tory government would make it a priority to as quickly as possible clean up the contamination. Oh please! The Torys (Conservatives) just like the Liberals have had decades in power to do just that and haven't lifted a finger. If they won't clean up Elmira with the contamination moving into the Grand River and towards large communities such as Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Brantford etc. then why would they clean up the English-Wabigoon system for the sparse population up there? Isn't democracy just grand.

The only difference here in Elmira is that our authorities at all levels are participating in the sham of public consultation and the sham of polluter driven "investigations" and "clean ups". Here the authorities at least feel that they have to pretend that they are constantly monitoring and constantly looking for solutions. Dr. Dick Jackson walked after he'd had enough of the scam.

Monday, May 21, 2018

GOUTWEED: IT'S HERE AND IT'S NASTY



Goutweed has been making its' presence known here in Elmira in a big way. It is an invasive plant originally from Europe and northern Asia. It was brought to North America to be used as an ornamental plant in gardens and as a low maintenance ground cover. The problem is that it is too good as ground cover as it rapidly and uncontrollably spreads forming dense patches that displace native plants and reduces species diversity.

Goutweed has been described as having compound leaves which can be green or white in colour. By mid-summer the tall leafy stems produce clusters of white flowers. The roots are impenetrable and spread underground in all directions including in and around other plants roots. Moist soil and light shade help spread this plant although it can also tolerate heavily shaded areas. Logged forests and abandoned fields are often home to Goutweed although unfortunately lawns and gardens will also host it.

Control is very difficult with persistent hand pulling and removal of all underground roots. This may succeed in the early days only of infestation. Also frequent mowing at short heights will slow its' spread. Covering with black plastic sheeting will also inhibit its' growth and spread. The literature claims that glyphosate (Roundup) will kill the plant because the chemical moves into the roots. Unfortunately contact herbicides (Weed Be Gone?) on the leaves are ineffective. This is unfortunate because glyphosate has become ubiquitous in our groundwater courtesy of its' effectiveness and hence mass use.

Recently Woolwich Council has been approached about this growing problem by at least one local citizen and asked for assistance. The last I heard was that they had agreed to provide some assistance although whether or not that has happened yet I am unsure.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

WEST MONTROSE WATER SUPPLY



Disappointing to say the least. Disappointing in that the Region of Waterloo seem unable or unwilling to share information with the public about this water supply. On page 2 of 6 of the 2017 Annual Report (Drinking Water) they advise that the four supply wells WM1, 2, 3 & 4 were taken out of service in August 2017 because the "treatment plant has been shutdown while significant upgrades take place.". Then we are advised on the next page that there has not been equipment installed, repaired or replaced and further more that no significant expenses were incurred. Really?

A further study of this six page report only confirms that the four supply wells were out of service (offline) for 18 weeks in 2017. Zero mention why or where the water in the taps of residents is coming from. I'm willing to bet that many West Montrose residents don't even know that the Region made the decision a few years back to permanently (thank God) shut down the four "river" wells and hook West Montrose up to a pipeline that runs over to Conestogo and from there tie it in at St. Jacobs with the water pipeline running from Waterloo up to St. Jacobs and Elmira.

So where currently is West Montrose's water coming from? I don't think that the pipeline is completed but I could be wrong. This Annual Report (drinking water) is the place to tell us. It doesn't. The alternative which has also been used for several years in conjunction with the four wells is multiple tanker loads of water per day brought in by the Region and discharged into the West Montrose treatment reservoir. This water comes from the IUS or Integrated Urban System which basically means it undergoes treatment at one of numerous water treatment locations and then is put into the integrated urban system which serves Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.

What we do know from this report is that the raw water in the "river" wells (WM1, 2, 3 & 4) is still polluted. This is hardly a shocker as it's been so likely from day one decades ago. Total Coliforms ranged from 0-65 in the raw water after membrane filtration to determine bacteria levels. E.Coli ranged from 0-3. E.Coli are the killer that ended seven lives in Walkerton in 2000 and made thousands sick, some with permanent health problems because of it. Justice Dennis O'Connor made it clear in his Inquiry Report that water supplies needed to be protected from the source to the end users taps. This he referred to as the multiple barrier system. Having known contaminated source water and relying upon failsafes further down the line to treat the water contravenes both the spirit and the intention of the O'Connor Inquiry and Report.

I hesitate to condemn the Region of Waterloo by suggesting that West Montrose residents have been serviced for decades by a third world water supply system. Prior to construction of so many homes on septic service upgradient from the river wells, likely the Coliforms and E.Coli were only seasonal problems more associated with flooding in the Grand River. The septic systems combined possibly with the upriver trailer park simply would have greatly exacerbated the bacteria problems associated with surface water such as the Grand River infiltrating into the wells.

Friday, May 18, 2018

CONSERVATIVE PARTY IN VERY BAD HANDS



O.K. first off I have never in my life voted Conservative. Anywhere, anytime for any candidate. That said I do have a couple of friends and a couple of acquaintances who do believe in the principles of Conservatism. Unfortunately what we are seeing from those in charge of the Conservative Party of Ontario has absolutely nothing to do with the Conservative Party platform. It has everything to do with self interest and a lack of morals and ethics.

Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following Opinion Piece by Luisa D'Amato titled "Smeared by his own party, MPP Michael Harris is too good to lose". Other political commentators have expressed similar views regarding the expulsion of Michael Harris from the Conservative caucus as well as parachuting in to his riding (Kitchener-Conestoga) Michael Harris Jr., the son of former Premier Mike Harris, to run as the Conservative candidate in next month's election. How bizarre or opportunistic is it to nastily and indecently remove Mike Harris from the riding he's held for many years and parachute in a candidate with the same name? Are the party brain trusts hoping that the electorate are so stupid that they will be re-electing the same person they've voted for in the past?

Luisa D'Amato raises the following points: The female intern never worked for Michael Harris. The woman involved was the more flirtatious or "sexually aggressive" in the texts they sent. Michael Harris was single at the time. They never spoke again. She never complained about his texts. Party officials reviewed the texts in 2013 in the context of a totally separate and unrelated complaint by the woman against the Party and found them to be a non-issue.

Michael Harris Jr. was unsuccessful in his bid to be nominated to represent the Conservatives in Waterloo. Apparently his father, the former Premier, is a top fundraiser for the Conservatives and he wanted a seat for his son in the Ontario legislature. How convenient this whole affair has been to some and how devastating to the Conservatives' own, well respected member of the provincial parliament (mpp). Shame on each and every guilty participant in this smearing of a good man. This includes Michael Harris Jr. in that he would be willing to have any part whatsoever in the backstabbing and removal from caucus of a good, sitting m.p.p. for his own personal benefit. This folks is not democracy. Please do not vote for the new parachuted in Conservative candidate, Michael Harris Jr..