“Gold standard” groundwater is area’s most precious natural resource, scientist tells Tiny
William Shotyk, right, addresses Tiny Township Council. Vickie Monague of Beausoleil First Nation, known for her role in stopping Dump Site 41, is at left, live streaming the presentation.
‘There are people in the world who would give a limb to have water like this’
By Kate Harries – AWARE News Network
The scientist who tested the groundwater underlying the area once proposed for Dump Site 41 – and found it to be cleaner than 5,000 year-old Arctic ice – has told Tiny Township Council they have a unique and precious natural resource.
“This isn’t just great water, it’s not excellent water, this is outstanding remarkable water,” said William Shotyk, Bocock chair of Agriculture and the Environment at the University of Alberta, and the owner of a farm in Springwater.
“This water is the gold standard.”
Shotyk appeared before council last week in the wake of residents’ and councillors’ concerns about a proposed expansion of a quarry on French’s Hill, east of Site 41.
“This water is in your hands,” he told councillors. “But I think the opportunity is here to think about the value of the water from a much larger perspective, and not only for the citizens of this part of Ontario but for all the citizens of Ontario.”
Shotyk detailed how he started sampling local wells 25 years ago and used the water as a reference in a study that showed how contaminants are present in all bottled waters because they leach from the plastic.
More recently, Shotyk has installed two groundwater sampling wells at his Springwater farm. “The water is so clean I have to filter the air before I collect my water samples,” he said, “so I am not getting contamination from the air we are breathing.”
He noted that many people in Canada and around the world are unable to drink their water, either because of natural factors or pollution. “There are people in the world who would give a limb to have water like this,” he said. “People here have no idea how precious that water is.”
What makes the water exceptional? The answer lies in the soil, council was told – the way the water flows down through the glacial deposits of the Waverley Uplands and up through the fine sediments of the lowlands. “Really, to protect this water we have to understand the hydrology and I’m not sure who really understands the hydrology,” Shotyk said.
In their questions, Tiny politicians wrestled with the issue of how they could challenge the gravel pit operators along with the province, for which aggregate extraction takes high priority. Shotyk noted that the water exceeds the environment ministry’s drinking water quality guidelines by orders of magnitude. (In other words, it is so clean, it will take a lot of contamination).
“So I guess it’s a little bit of a philosophical question – what sort of water quality do you want to have? Do you want to have the water quality that Mother Nature has provided, that really cannot be improved upon, or do you want to have water quality that’s adequate?” He suggested that the water is the area’s most precious natural resource.
Shotyk was dismayed to learn that there is a proposal to bring in used asphalt into the quarry to be ground up and mixed with the extracted aggregate into a new product. “In Switzerland and Germany, when they’re rebuilding highways, they’re not moving any material. At one end of the machine they’re grinding up the old highway and at the other end of the machine they’re melting it and laying out the new highway. It doesn’t make sense to move asphalt anywhere.”
Shotyk is due to address Springwater Council on Wednesday, June 21. Video of his presentation to Tiny Council can be accessed on the May 8, 2017 edition of Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.