A University of Windsor department head is in the early stages of planning a research study involving Chatham-Kent water wells.
Dr. Joel Gagnon is an associate professor and department head of Earth and Environmental Sciences and is planning to research why water conditions have deteriorated over the years for well owners in the area.
“I run an environmental field school for undergraduate students in our environmental sciences program,” says Gagnon. “I try to keep in contact with alumni about opportunities for students. This particular issue was brought to my attention as a potential field school opportunity for undergraduate students to help participate in.”
Gagnon says the field school typically runs in the summer. He says students would be on the ground looking at sampling.
“We’re looking at a start of getting students out into the field and learning practical field sampling skills and potentially taking that up to look at bigger research questions,” explains Gagnon. “As it stands right now, we’re trying to understand what those research questions might be and how we might be able to contribute to addressing the question.”
Gagnon says the department will be doing some background work to look at what information is available in terms of water quality, the nature of the bedrock, and overburdened aquifers.
“We’re approaching this from an academic slant… we’ve had a situation where water quality in the area has been good for a long time and something has changed,” explains Gagnon. “[Water Wells First] is looking for help in trying to address what has happened in the area that has contributed to this loss in water quality.”
Water Wells First (WWF) is an activist group in Chatham-Kent that claims pile driving and wind turbine construction are contaminating well water for residents in the area.
Gagnon says he recognizes that a community group like WWF has few resources to look at some of the more technical questions of the problem.
“We’re hoping to sort of mesh our technical capabilities and research capabilities with their needs,” he says.
WWF Spokesperson Kevin Jakubec says this research is going to be very helpful for every family in the area.
“It’s going to send a very strong message back to the premier and the Ontario government that no matter what they are trying to do as far as covering up this problem, this problem is simply not going to be covered up,” he explains.
Jakubec claims the Ministry of Environment (MOE) consistently refuses to collect sediment samples and examine them. He says his group’s experts recently presented the MOE with findings that show the sediments contain black shale.
He says the MOE and North Kent Wind recently informed the Leveille family, whose water well on Caledonia Rd. in Dresden is clogged with sediments, that they will not be receiving any water. He says this contradicts the environment minister Chris Ballard’s promise for the ministry to work with residents to secure an alternative supply of water.
Water Wells First joined Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak and the Council of Canadians at Queen’s Park Thursday morning to again call for an immediate Health Hazard Investigation at farms located near Samsung’s North Kent One wind turbine site.