Pit presents problems

Dear Editor:

Lafarge Canada recently announced plans to extend its aggregate quarrying operations to include a third pit at an operational site just off Highway 124 South near Wellington Road 32 in Guelph-Eramosa and Puslinch townships.

This area of Highway 124 is fast becoming known as pit row. Three aggregate corporations, Lafarge Aggregates, Tri-City and James Dick Construction Ltd., operate along the stretch of Highway 124 that runs from just past Whitelaw Road to just past Kossuth Rd.

Lafarge was to host a public information meeting on July 24 at the Victoria Recreation Centre from 6 to 8pm.

The most concerning issue is that Lafarge proposes to up its use of water from six million to 27 million litres of water per day. That amounts to over nine billion litres of water every year for the 10-year period the corporation intends to operate the extended quarry site, as indicated on its water-taking permit applications. This massive volume of water will be primarily sourced from groundwater – the water that supplies Guelph and Guelph-Eramosa with their drinking water.

Lafarge has stated this huge volume of water will primarily be used to de-water the quarry. Essentially, Lafarge intends to pump the water out of the pit into the surrounding wetlands and the Speed River. Company officials say there will be no contamination and water will be tested before being pumped into either location.

Has a Tier 3 environmental assessment been completed in advance of Lafarge’s application for renewed and new water-taking permits? Will a third-party monitoring agency be testing the water before, during and after the quarry is de-watered and sending results to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks? What about any of the chemical residues left after blasting?

What safeguards is Lafarge putting in place to ensure water taken from bedrock is not contaminated at any stage of the excavation process and that fissures in the bedrock won’t carry contaminants back to the aquifer?

What happens if Lafarge breaches the Viewmount Aquitard (remember DoLime?)? What will the cumulative impact of corporate water-taking in Guelph-Eramosa, Guelph and Puslinch be on the aquifer, eco-systems, environment, and the sustainable supply of top-quality potable water?

Groundwater in the area is already described as at serious risk.

What about nearby private wells in Guelph-Eramosa or Puslinch? What happens if our wells run dry?

Ontario has more than 6,000 licensed quarries and enough aggregate inventory to last for decades. Looking at the Lafarge proposal, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s all about location and profit-building.

Please talk with your municipal councillors and MPPs about your water concerns.

The application by Lafarge is not a “done deal.” Community engagement can make all the difference.

Susan McSherry,
Wellington Water Watchers