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Erin to spend another $600,000 to secure viable water source

by Olivia Rutt

ERIN - Finding a new water source has been an elusive endeavour thus far, according to consultants seeking another $600,000 from the Town of Erin.

Christine Furlong of Triton Engineering and Andrew Pentney of Groundwater Science Corp told council on April 3 the search for a new viable water supply has not been successful.

Sites at the Erin fire hall and town-owned lands near Kenneth Avenue were tested but both underperformed.

Furlong said those sites were chosen for testing as they were the most cost-effective and were owned by the town.

“Finding and drilling new wells has been a significant challenge, given public interest, the new regulatory environment around source water protection and in your case, the natural features that rely on ground water recharge and discharge near the urban areas near Hillsburgh and Erin village,” said Furlong.

The town’s draft wastewater environmental assessment stated the Credit River could permit a residential population of 14,559, a significant increase from the original 6,000 noted in the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP) completed in 2014.

As a result, the water supply deficit has increased, explained Furlong.

“Instead of one or two wells to service 6,000 people, we’re now looking at five to seven wells to service 14,600 people,” she said.

“Given the potential in service population and the failure to find adequate water in the previous-mentioned sites, expansion of the drilling program is needed to find and secure additional water supply to support the pending official plan review.”

There are eight potential exploratory sites, three of which will be part of the next round of testing.

Furlong was seeking approval from council to use the remaining budget of $133,500 and the remaining reserve fund of $122,000 (allocated to finding a new well following the trichloroethylene contamination of well E5 in the 1990s) to test the three new sites.

Furlong also asked for an additional $604,000 to complete two additional production wells.

She added this was to ensure the project could move forward during a potential “lame duck” council period prior to the fall election.

Councillor John Brennan said it was a “big pill to swallow,” noting the additional water supply was needed because of the added sewage capacity.

“The water systems are already short for the existing population,” said Furlong. She noted that after the two production wells are online, additional wells can be capped until needed.

“Really, this is the first municipality I’ve worked with where we’ve sunk holes and not found water,” she said.

Brennan asked if the new test wells would be tapping into the same aquifer as the underperforming test wells. Erin sits in both the Grand River and Credit River watersheds.

Furlong confirmed all exploratory wells were within the Credit River watershed because taking from the Grand River watershed would lead to an inter-basin transfer.

“Then you get into even more regulatory requirements, to the point where you even have to go and talk to our friends in the United States of America,” she said.

Pentney added, “We’re looking at a deeper source (in the Credit River watershed).”

Councillor Jeff Duncan said, “I think the EA for the water supply is just as important as the wastewater and it’s something we’re going to have to grapple with.”

Councillor Rob Smith said with all the data from conservation authorities, Nestlé Waters Canada and Source Water Protection, “you would think ... we would know where the water is in town.”

Councillor Matt Sammut agreed. “I don’t get it either. We live in 2018 and I’ve seen maps of aquifers; maybe we don’t have it in Erin but the amount of money that we’re spending just seems wild,” he said.  

Pentney said much of the data relates to testing rather than predictive analysis.

“The amount of money that has been spent so far to search for water, in the scheme of overall municipal systems, it is not large,” he said.

Mayor Allan Alls asked why the town hasn’t pursued expansion of the Bel-Erin well.

“The Bell Erin ... is still in the plans to look at it, but it alone will not solve all of your problems,” said Furlong.  

“You need way more water than what that well can produce and to bring it up to standard would require significant treatment technology to go in there.”

Alls added the EA needed to move forward.

“Now, understand that we’ve got to do these two wells - there’s no if, ands or buts about it,” he said.

CAO Nathan Hyde added, “we have a pretty good handle on the finances.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow; we don’t like having to incur significant costs like this, but I think we’re well positioned to address it moving forward.”

Council unanimously approved the extra spending.

April 13, 2018


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