Jessica Brooks couldn't believe it when she learned through media reports that an official with the North Kent Wind project stated there was no evidence of any issue found, so far, with her family's well water.
Why she found it so unbelievable was the fact that around the same time the statement was released on Friday, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Control had sent an e-mail to her and North Kent Wind officials regarding preliminary results of a water sample taken from their water well.
It showed the turbidity level was 86.8 NTU's (Nephelometric Turbidity Units), well above the acceptable level of 5 NTU in Ontario.
Brooks and her husband Paul, along with three teenagers and her mother, spent a few days last week with no water at their Brook Line home, north of Chatham, because sediments had clogged up the system to the point water wasn't coming through the taps.
The family said the problem arose a few days after pile driving began at two locations within eyesight of their property where industrial wind turbines are going to be erected for the North Kent Wind Farm.
Media were invited to the Brooks' property last Wednesday to see the impacts of the turbidity, caused by sediment, which left them unable to flush their toilets or take a shower.
After seeing these preliminary results from the MOECC, Jessica Brooks fears their well is destroyed.
“Who knows if it will ever recover,” she said. “We had free unlimited water that my kids loved.”
Brooks showed The Daily News copies of reports on turbidity tests done in June on water samples taken from their well by Bill Clarke, a hydrogeologist working with the citizen group Water Wells First, that were between 2.53 and 3.02 NTU's.
The couple wants an apology and for Jody Law, of Pattern Energy, which is part owner of the project with Samsung Renewable Energy, to retract statements that there are no issues with their water.
Law, who is the senior development manager for the North Kent project, stated a site visit was scheduled by Aecom staff – an engineering firm working for North Kent Wind – to sample the water and have it tested.
“The preliminary update from Aecom's field staff is that, with no remedial work required, they were able to run a faucet continuously with no issues.
“The sample was visually clear and colourless with no visible sediment,” Law's statement added. “We've have requested expedited analysis from the lab but, at this point, there is no empirical evidence of an issue.”
The Daily News contacted Pattern Energy for comment, but did receive a response by Tuesday evening.
Brooks said her husband and Kevin Jakubec, spokesperson for Water Wells First, were both present when the Aecom representative took the water samples. But, it didn't happen like Law described it.
Jakubec said it took the Aecom staffer “great difficulty to get raw water from the aquifer.”
He said there was so much sediment built up, it took several minutes to flush the system as the water came in dribbles and sputtered at times.
“Finally it ran for seven minutes and that's what he used to collect his water samples,” Jakubec said.
Water Wells First has been sounding the alarm about the impact the vibrations from erecting and operating turbines could have on water wells in the area, because the aquifer is on Kettle Point black shale, which is known to contain harmful heavy metals such as uranium, arsenic and lead.
Jakubec said the loss of enjoyment of their property and quality of life for the Brooks family has triggered conditions in the permit for this wind project that requires the company to address this situation.
He said if other residents encounter this problem, Water Wells First recommends they contact the MOECC to file a well interference complaint.
“The MOE has to come out, they're obligated under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act,” he added.
Jakubec said legal action has been threatened against the MOE by the group, citing the fact the project should be shut down until an investigation is done into what is happening with the Brooks family well.
The company provided a 2,000 gallon tank of water to the family on Saturday, which Brooks said was quickly used up by catching up on cleaning and laundry. It was refilled on Tuesday afternoon.
However, she said this is not a permanent solution to their situation, especially when winter arrives.
Brooks said she requested a meeting with the company, but on Tuesday only received a “weird e-mail” from Law regarding an old test that was done. She added the e-mail said nothing about addressing the current situation.
Jakubec said this property now has an “environmental stigma” attached to it that North Kent Wind needs to fully address, including providing proper compensation.