Updates and Actions on Spencerville Well Water

September 25, 2020

Dear Resident,

     This communication is intended to provide updated information on the well water problems encountered by some private well owners in Spencerville beginning about mid-August and first reported to the township by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) on Friday Aug 14.

   My first Open Message To The Residents of Spencerville on August 21 detailed all the immediate actions taken by the township to react to the initial report and that message was followed-up with an additional communication from the township on Aug 25. Again on September 4, 2020 the township issued a notice: Spencerville Private Well Water Quality Testing;  reporting that on AUGUST 31 MECP and township staff had collected seventy-eight (78) private well water samples from within the Village, sharing some of the initial results and once again requesting that private well owners, who have submitted water samples to the Health Unit lab, report those results to the township. The Health Unit Lab reports only to the well-owner. All previous communications are posted to our website at: https://www.twpec.ca/community-news-events/

      This letter is intended to provide some additional information now that more detailed test results have been received and to inform residents of actions and initiatives still underway to better understand the reasons for so many adverse test results. While the municipality has no jurisdiction over, or responsibility for private water wells, both Council and staff are concerned for the safety of our residents and we are continuing to work with MECP, the Health Unit and our environmental consultants to learn more so that we can provide additional guidance. The consultants have been engaged to assess well results from participating property owners, do further testing, examine well sites and well caps and ensure wells have the new VERMIN proof Well-Caps.  Once their report with recommendations is complete it will be shared with residents at a Public meeting.   

     As mentioned above there were Seventy-Eight (78) water samples taken from private wells on August 31 by several teams.  Forty-Four (44) of those samples were taken to be tested by the MECP lab in Toronto and thirty-four (34) were taken by staff and individuals in Heath Unit Sample bottles intended to be tested in the HEALTH UNIT lab in Kingston. It should be noted that the Heath Unit lab tests for the presence of Total Coliforms and E-coli only. The standard for drinking water is ZERO coliforms AND Zero E-coli; reported directly to the well owner as ZERO-ZERO. The township does NOT get these results unless the well owner reports them to our office.

     The MECP lab in Toronto runs a much more detailed and much more sophisticated series of tests to search for additional information. The MECP has reported to the township that 27 of the 44 samples tested in their lab (about 60%) showed “adverse results” not suitable for drinking, while 17 cleared the standard for potable water (safe to drink). Furthermore, details of the adverse results indicated that the source of coliforms/e-coli was neither human nor bovine based. With that information and the fact that the township had continued the Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) Inspection of the majority of the remaining Sewer Mains & Laterals, all parties agreed that the municipal waste-water collection system was NOT the source of the problem.

     As of Wednesday Sept 16 when I was interviewed by CTV News the township had received a total of 12 HEALTH UNIT water test results from residents of which three(3) tested ZERO/ZERO (safe drinking water standard) and nine showed adverse results “OVERGROWN, Unable to test for coliforms”

   As of today, Friday Sept 25, the township has received a total of 20 Health Unit water test results from residents plus the 44 results provided from the MECP collection program on Aug 31. We now have a new total of 25 ZERO-ZERO well water test result samples. We are now starting to hear reports from individuals who have received ZERO-ZERO results from second and third samples taken after following Health Unit recommendations for private well maintenance.  

    We are quite confident that over time with the assistance of our consultants and by following the recommendations of the Health Unit and MECP, all private wells can be brought to a potable water standard and in the meantime erroneous publicity implying causes, before knowing the source, serve only to foster a negative view of the Village as a great place to live.

  As a last item I can report that the work done recently at the Sewage Pumping Station #1 at the rear of the DRUMMOND GAS BAR property was in no way related to any of the well water problems. Simply put regular inspections revealed that the check valves required replacement and in preparing to undertake the work staff noted concerns with isolation valves and overall pipe integrity thus expanding the scope of the project and requiring the services of an outside contractor. This work was completed on Sept 15 at an estimated cost of $16,782. This was an un-budgeted maintenance expense charged to the Sewer Collection System.  

Pat Sayeau, Mayor
Township of EdwardsburghCardinal.       

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