More information needed on thermal impacts: Bulmer

ABERFOYLE – Puslinch councillor Matthew Bulmer would like to see more information on potential thermal impacts before agreeing to a gravel pit expansion.

On Jan. 2 councillors viewed correspondence from CBM seeking to move forward to “pond 3” extraction at its Roszell Pit site.

As extraction of pond 2 nears completion, the company must submit a report to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) confirming extraction of ponds 1 and 2 has not caused issues with wetland vegetation flora and amphibian breeding habitat.

The CBM correspondence included summary reports from consultants Dance Environmental Inc. and Groundwater Science Corp., which are working on  ecological/aquatic monitoring and water resources monitoring, respectively.

Monitoring from both consultants has been ongoing since the pit started operation.

“It is important to understand how we got to this point on the site,” Bulmer said of the planned expansion into Pond 3.

“One of the concerns which originally came up in the site’s approval process was the concern of potential thermal impact to the groundwater (warming) as a result of creating theses ponds.”

Bulmer noted that’s why the project ended up being staged and the monitoring put in place.

Noting the report indicated possible revisions to the groundwater modelling, he said, “I’d like to see more work done on this by the applicant prior to expansion into the third pond.”

He said original concerns about groundwater warming were “serious enough that this went to the Ontario Municipal Board and an agreement was made regarding temperature thresholds which would trigger changes to the operations should those lines be crossed.”

Bulmer added the “thermal impacts crossed the threshold before excavation of the first pond was complete.”

But because the thresholds did not relate to below groundwater extraction, the ministry did not feel the thresholds applied.

“We’ve been discussing these things ever since,” said Bulmer, who noted the township wanted thresholds in place before changes to the environment took place.

“Considering how far wrong the original groundwater model was in the first place, and that it started before below groundwater extraction took place, I think warrants asking why the original model did not predict the potential for thermal groundwater changes,” he said.

Noting concerns have also been raised by area residents, Bulmer added, “I think this a good opportunity to get this information before approving further below groundwater aggregate extraction.”

He said he hopes the ministry would support a request to update groundwater modelling and potential impacts to neighbouring residents  prior to approving an expansion.

Bulmer noted the request could be made under the original site plan approval process.

Councillor John Sepulis asked that the township’s consultant put together a letter, noting, “It always provides more credibility coming from an expert rather than just council.”

Council received CBM’s correspondence, and directed staff to forward the information to its hydrogeologist for comment on a new groundwater model and potential impacts to neighbouring residents.

Mayor James Seeley said he supports the idea of having some technical expertise behind any letter directed to the ministry.