Protect Our Water

 

Teedon Pit Update: Meetings with CRH Canada Inc.

By Peter and Jenny Anderson and Christopher Williams

From the Fall/Winter 2018 Tiny Cottager Newspaper

The Friends of the Waverley Uplands, a group of like-minded community members, continue to work towards greater stewardship and protection of the Alliston Aquifer, whose headwaters are sourced locally in the area of French’s Hill. In addition to responsible stewardship and protection of this aquifer for future generations, we are committed to sharing information and research with public and elected officials, encouraging action, and preserving this pristine aquifer. Many members are veterans of the Site 41 fight, and several were asked to sit on the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) established by the Teedon Pit operations of CRH Canada Inc. As reported in earlier Tiny Township Council meetings, there were significant gaps in the CRH water taking permit application currently before the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. CRH’s application did not include any information regarding the final disposition of the millions of litres of water pumped for use in gravel washing operations. As a consequence, our members on the CLC encouraged CRH to drill additional monitoring wells around the perimeter of their current operations so that we could establish important baselines. This information was necessary to determine upper and lower aquifer flows, and specifically whether the gravel wash ponds were leaking sediment laden wash water into the upper aquifer, resulting in contamination of a number of nearby drinking water wells. To date, our meetings with CRH have confirmed the following:

  • CRH was in receipt of the Wilf Ruland hydrogeology report. This report points to the Teedon Pit on French’s Hill as the source of sediment contamination in area wells.
  • Operationally, CRH reported they are actively mining the west wall and that the crusher plant and wash plant are now beside each other and in full operation. They remain 40 meters above the established water table (they are permitted to excavate within 1.5 meters). Seven new monitoring wells have been established and CRH has committed to posting daily data on their website.
  • The new wells only report on groundwater levels as opposed to data regarding off-site contamination of water wells by the wash plant.
  • CRH confirmed that they only use calcium dust suppressant on the paved asphalt at the plant exit and do not use any type of flocculant in the wash pond.
  • CRH indicated they plan to amend their site plan to exclude the northeast wetlands area from proposed development. Our members asked CRH to remove the receipt of asphalt and construction materials from their permit. This would reduce the risk of contamination to this vulnerable aquifer.

The June meeting then transitioned to a lengthy discussion regarding traffic safety, noise and vibrations that were impacting homes near the entrance to the pit. Tiny Council has requested a staff report to address road shoulders, speed and a community safety zone. These issues consumed the remaining time. The most recent CLC meeting took place on September 13, 2018. A shout of thanks go out to all the organizers and attendees for their continued support. Although our MPP Jill Dunlop and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner were called to an emergency meeting of the House and could not attend, we were fortunate to have Beausoleil First Nations Chief Guy Monague in attendance. He spoke to the greater issues of First Nations’ challenges across Canada and emphasized the importance of water as the lifeblood of our community. The meeting was largely a report from CRH’s hydrogeologist. CRH took a firm position that their operations and “no quarry worldwide” has negatively impacted groundwater. Their data to date, from seven new wells, confirm that the groundwater flows from east to west. Ironically, the previous hydrogeologist offered by the quarry was of the opinion the flow was only to the east. They also have taken a firm position that silted water cannot move laterally from the silt pond. This is curious, as we know of local groundwater springs that are milky with sediment. This conflicting information highlights why much more study is necessary. Unfortunately, CRH have rejected the findings of hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland and dispute the opinion and findings of environmental geochemist William Shotyk (Professor and Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment at the University of Alberta), while praising their relationship with the inspector from the ministry. John Cherry, a world-renowned hydrogeologist and Professor Emeritus at University of Waterloo, University of Saskatchewan and University of California, Berkeley states, “the wealth of the plains depends on the health of the hill.” He also stated recently that “the single greatest threat to groundwater in Ontario is the Ministry of the Environment.” In conclusion, the reliability of the CRH opinion has to be weighed against the biased lens of their agenda. We should not be surprised by their findings. However, now that they have taken a clear position, it is time to challenge them with a set of “alternative facts” from key players and scientists whose only interest is the purity of the water.

To learn more, follow The Friends of the Waverley Uplands Facebook page