Ministry extends deadline for comment on Waverley Uplands PTTW
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
The Ontario government has extended by two months the comment period on an application by CRH Canada Group for a 10-year renewal to its permit to take water (PTTW) at the Dufferin Aggregates Teedon pit.
The pit is on the French’s Hill recharge area for an aquifer that been found to be purer than any other tested.
The extension came on Monday February 12, the same day as Tiny Township Council voted to (a) request it, and (b) that conditions be applied to the renewal for ongoing research and monitoring of the impact of aggregate extraction on local wells and groundwater.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change stated in a posting Monday to the environmental registry that “due to the level of interest, the ministry has extended the public review and comment period to 90 days.”
Shawn Persaud, the township’s director of planning, had a slightly different take on what had happened. He told councillors he had been informed by Dufferin Aggregates that it was the company’s request for an extension of the comment period that had been approved.
The original January 23, 2018 posting on the environmental registry called for a 30 day public review and a comment period ending February 22, 2018. The new deadline for comment is April 23, 2018.
Tiny councillors – with Mayor George Cornell absent – dealt with the issue Monday morning in committee of the whole, with ratification coming at the afternoon’s council meeting.
Debate in the morning focused on a report from Dave Hopkins of R.J. Burnside and Associates, who advised that although municipalities are notified of PTTW applications, they do not have any official jurisdiction in the review or approval process, although they are invited to comment.
Vicki Monague, a member of Beausoleil First Nation, told councillors she was shocked to learn they had no jurisdiction. “Wow. That is huge for the democratic process, to be able to tell these residents here who love their life, and their homes, and their land, that they can only provide a comment for the EBR process.”
She added that BFN has not been consulted, either on the original licensing of the pit, or on the PTTW, or on the current renewal application. She added that she believes there are sites of historical significance on French’s Hill, due to accounts she’s received of artefacts and bones being turned up “just through the process of daily life.” She advised that a coalition is being formed to defend “some of the world’s purest water” that will include Council of Canadians, Friends of Waverley Uplands, AWARE Simcoe and the Anishinaabe Kweag, the group that led the fight to stop Dump Site 41 which was a threat to the same aquifer.
Councillors expressed their desire to communicate how the community feels about the water to the provincial government.
“Is there a way to arm-twist to get there?” Councillor Gib Wishart asked. Noting that Burnside had two recommendations that dated back to 2016, first for an independent consultant to ascertain and provide a baseline on the condition of local domestic wells, secondly for gauges and a multi-level well to monitor the movement of groundwater on and off the site, Wishart wanted to know: “Are we in a position to demand this?”
“You can ask for it,” replied Hopkins. He noted that the environment ministry is treating this as a Category 3 application, requiring a detailed ecological / hydrological / hydrogeological study. This would not normally be the case for a renewal and is an indication the ministry is taking public concern and the history of the site into account, he suggested.
Hopkins said there are two “big sticks” that could come into play – that the environment ministry impose monitoring conditions, and that, if impact on private wells can be demonstrated, that the Water Resources Act prohibits disruption of a person’s water supply.
Councillor Cindy Hastings referred to the site’s history, which includes an illegally installed wash pond that only came to light at a public meeting. “I’m just concerned that the process wasn’t followed,” she said.
Once again, councillors complained that Dufferin had promised to answer questions, but failed to do so.
Councillor Richard Hinton also raised the wider issue of the uniqueness of the water. “It’s just so difficult to see us playing around with this water table and thinking that there’s an acceptable way to play with it when we’ve had folks come out and tell us how pure this water is,” he said.
Resident Chris Williams thanked council for speaking up for the residents. “This is a complex glacial deposit laid down 12,000 years ago,” he said. “The water, the sediment has already been cleaned once and this area has become a repository for the finest water in the world. “We are now disrupting that process through the excavation and through this water-taking permit and I think it’s incumbent on us to look for information regarding what’s happening to the water that s being extracted.”
What is happening now is that extremely fine clays are being washed out of the gravel in the pond, and the issue is whether the water carrying that fine sediment – which now qualifies as a contaminant if it gets into drinking water – is affecting the area’s domestic wells.
Wishart told Hopkins that there seems little doubt that that’s what’s happening. “I’ll let you in on a little secret – the washpond is dead empty,” he said, adding as his “unprofessional opinion” that “the water with the fines (very small particles) is going into the ground and affecting people’s wells.”
The following is taken from the Burnside report:
“As indicated above, there are two sources of water: Well PW1-09 and the Wash Pond. “The well is used to supply water to the wash pond at a rate of 1,136 L/min (250 igpm) for 24 hours per day, 210 days per year. Water is pumped from the wash pond at a rate of 7,274 L/min (1600 igpm) for 12 hours per day, 210 days per year.
“The EBR does not indicate the category of the application nor provide any supporting documentation. However, the MOECC confirmed via email on February 5, 2018 that they consider the PTTW to be a Category 3 application (which requires a detailed ecological / hydrological / hydrogeological study completed by a qualified person).”
The report notes that:
“Burnside initially provided comments on the proposed Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Site Plan Amendment application for the Teedon Pit in a February 24, 2016 letter. The comments were based on water takings that are the same as those proposed in the PTTW amendment. The proponent subsequently provided a response to the Burnside comments. After reviewing the proponent’s response, the final Burnside recommendations were provided in a letter dated April 15, 2016. It is noted that these recommendations were not included by the MNRF in the Site Plan approval.
“Since the rates and sources listed on the EBR are unchanged from the current PTTW, the April 15, 2016 Burnside comments on the proposed water taking are still applicable and are provided below:
“-The current condition of nearby domestic wells should be established, including the well depth and condition of the casing / screen, and the well yield and general water quality. The work should be completed by the proponent using an independent qualified consultant.
“-The monitoring network at the Teedon Pit should be expanded to include a staff gauge in the wash pond, a nested well with screens completed at a variety of depths (to monitor change in gradients during use of the wash pond), along with a number of wells completed in the aquifer(s) that are used by domestic wells in the area.”
On the environmental registry, the ministry provides no documentation that supports the CRH application. However a report is posted on the Dufferin website. Burnside did not review this document.
Link to Tiny COW meeting Morning session 1:01:45 to 1:31:50 and 2:15:40 to 2:46:46
Link to Tiny Council meeting Afternoon session 6:46 to 9:31