Water supply master plan endorsed by township

Commenting period ends Sept. 23

ELORA – After about a year and a half, the Centre Wellington Water Supply Master Plan is officially complete.

Council was apprised of the final plan at its July 22 committee of the whole meeting and endorsed the notice of completion at its July 29 regular meeting. The review period begins Aug. 8 and will continue until Sept. 23.

Currently there are three municipal wells in Elora and seven in Fergus.

The new Water Supply Master Plan proposes hydrogeological investigations and testing in advance of any well issues to determine viability and capacity prior to replacement.

“A number of factors will be considered in identifying well sites and determining which well sites have greater priority … including: estimated well capacity, water quality and treatment requirements, well interference, distance to urban area (watermain length), availability of land for acquisition, environmental impacts, etc.,” the executive report states.

The plan also proposes;

– two replacement wells in Fergus (F5 in 2020 and F2 in 2021-22), at a cost of $1.4 million and $1.9 million respectively; and

– four new wells in/near Elora (area 3 in 2026, area 5 in 2031, area 8 in 2036-37 and area 7 in 2040) at costs ranging from $1.9 million to $6.2 million each.

The F5 replacement does not require a change in permitted water taking capacity, and therefore is a pre-approved activity involving a  Schedule A Class EA.

The remaining five proposed projects are considered Schedule B Class EA studies because they involve new ground water supplies.

“As such, natural and social/cultural environmental considerations will be evaluated on a site specific level for each proposed additional taking and new source,” the executive report states.

“This will include ecological investigation, cultural heritage and archaeological resources, and addressing First Nation’s interests for the proposed locations of future well sites.”

Mayor Kelly Linton said council received a letter from Save Our Water that states “residents are impressed with the work done on the Water Supply Master Plan. We appreciate the township moved this forward to begin in 2018.”

Linton added, “So they’re fully supportive of this document and that means a lot to us here at council.”

However, not all of council was in full support of the plan.

Councillor Kirk McElwain said the township will see growth beyond 2041 and there will likely need to be a projection of when the next well is needed based on the township’s growth plan.

Managing director of infrastructure services Colin Baker said the investigation for the fourth well location is scheduled to occur within the “2041 planning horizon but securing the well would be just outside.

“So I think it’s still a reasonable approach that we’ve taken in looking at those with the idea that we’ll be doing updates every five to 10 years.”

Councillor Ian MacRae said he is impressed with the plan.

“It is an excellent road map to start our journey to find new sources of water as well as how to best use the resources we are currently using,” he said.

However, he also said some elements were missing.

“The life expectancy of a municipal well and promoting another watermain linking Fergus and Elora deserve more discussion than incurred in the report,” he said.

Some wells are almost 80 years old, a reasonable life expectancy for municipal wells, according to MacRae.

“We may be drilling more wells than have been identified and it’s best we plan now for that eventuality,” he said.

He also said relying on one connection between Fergus and Elora is risky.

“Should the Aboyne booster pump breakdown we could be at risk if a significant water demand event were to happen,” he said.

“Elora would be the community most at risk. It is best from a redundancy perspective to have a second connection joining the two systems.”

MacRae also referenced a Hunter and Associates report (Potable Water Sources 2018 to 2041 and beyond), which was privately funded and provided to the township for free.

“I encourage our staff and councillors to consider its recommendations before opting to hire a consulting  firm to do the work,” he said.

“Like the McDonald Trust and knowing the typical costs associated with consulting, engineering studies, this too is a gift to the community, not to be squandered.”

Councillor Stephen Kitras asked if wells near old landfill sites were at risk of lower water quality.

Baker said new wells will not placed within those areas and wells that are there are considered low risk by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

“We’re not in a current wellhead protection areas but … that said, things could change down the road,” he said.

The Water Supply Master Plan is now in a 45-day commenting period. It can be found at www.connectcw.ca/water-supply and a hard copy is available to review at the  Municipal Office in Elora during regular business hours.