Members of Water Wells First have been pointing a finger at the Municipality of Chatham-Kent for what they feel is a lack of concern over issues with several water wells in the former Dover Township located near wind turbines.
North Kent Coun. Leon LeClair took the brunt of that anger and frustration on Thursday night when he showed up at a public meeting, organized by the citizen group, to discuss plans to address the issue of vibrations from the construction and operation of wind turbines, which is believed to be causing turbidity and heavy sediment in many water wells in the Dover area.
“Is there a cover up going on?” Water Wells First spokesman Kevin Jakubec asked LeClair in front of a crowd of about 200 people attending the meeting at Country View Golf Course in Oungah.
“To be honest, nobody approached me with water issues,” LeClair told the crowd.
“Council's onboard with supporting what's going on here,” he added, which generated large rumblings of 'No they don't' from the crowd.
However, a comment LeClair made that Mayor Randy Hopes supports water wells, but “he doesn't want to jeopardize the money” from wind projects, drew a large roar of disapproval from the ground.
“If I made a mistake in supporting the windmills, I'm here to try and make it right,” LeClair said. “I came here tonight to learn, to listen . . . I have no answers, yet.”
He told the crowd he had an issue with water on his Dover property and brought in water tanks, at his own expense, to solve the issue.
LeClair faced the music about how many felt several members of council didn't seem interested or even to care about the issues with their water wells when they gave deputations at the Aug. 22 council meeting.
There is a worry vibrations from the North Kent 1 wind farm project to be built in the Chatham Township area will cause the same problems with water wells, because it is on the same aquifer as Dover.
“We're going to have a whole lot of worthless property that we're not going to pay taxes on it, cause that's the way it's going to turn out,” shouted a man from the audience. “So where does it go from here?”
Jakubec said, “it's going to end up in civil disobedience, it's going to end up in civil unrest.
“We're fighting for our water,” he added.
Although some added protections have been gained in the Renewable Energy Approval for North Kent 1 that address vibrations and damage to wells, Jakubec said there is still wiggle room for the company to get around it.
He said if one well is damaged by this project, “we're doing to shut down construction” by holding a demonstration.
Jakubec said if this project causes the same problems being seen in Dover, the wind company should install municipal waterlines with no meters on them for the properties affected.
“If they want to swallow that financial cost because they're so determined to be here, then so be it,” he said.
Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls pledged his support and invited area residents to come to Queen's Park in a few weeks when he plans to raise the issue in the legislature.
“This isn't a minor issue, this is a major issue and, yes friends, we do have a crisis in water wells,” he said, adding his fellow Conservative MP, Monte McNaughton, from Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, is also committed to this cause.
“Countries have gone to war over water,” Nicholls said, adding he and McNaughton are prepared to go to war with the provincial government on behalf of residents to fight for clean, healthy water.
While Nicholls hopes the situation doesn't get to the point a demonstration takes place, he told the crowd he's willing to discuss it with the chief of police to explain it would be a peaceful demonstration.
Mike deBakker, a member of Water Wells First, who is concerned about potential impacts from the Otter Creek wind farm to be built north of Wallaceburg, pointed out nobody expected the situation that has occurred in Dover.
He believes going forward with these other projects council needs to look at addressing the situation as well as landowners who have signed lease agreements with the wind companies.
“They can't blame the wind companies because they now know what's going on,” deBakker said.