Waverley’s pristine water gets worked over
Professor Ian Clark of the University of Ottawa and graduate student Hamed Mozafari take water samples at the Elmvale flow.
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
The pristine water that flows from the Waverley Uplands was the subject of brief but intense investigation earlier this month.
Scientists from the University of Ottawa, the University of Guelph and the Ontario Geological Survey toured the area for a day, collecting samples of the water that was first identified as exceptional by Bill Shotyk, a local landowner and Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment at the University of Alberta.
“Have you ever seen lower chloride concentrations?” Shotyk asked John Cherry, director of the University Consortium for Field-Focused Groundwater Contamination Research and an adjunct professor in the engineering department at the University of Guelph.
“Never,” Cherry replied, explaining that chloride is a good indicator of the impact of human activity on groundwater. “This is pristine water.”
Interviewed at the flow north of Elmvale, Cherry said there appear to be two types of water present – glacial age and present day. He’s the team leader for a project that will try to determine why the water is so clean.
Cherry looked eastwards towards the Waverley Uplands. “The beauty here is that the recharge area, that upland area is obviously where much of this water is coming from. So we can study where it is going into the ground and we can study where it’s coming out.”
Scientists like simplicity, he said. “The full system is all here, the geology is not too complicated, it gives us hope of filling it all out in detail.”
As people who come to the flow for water they trust lugged heavy jugs past him, Ian Clark and a graduate student took samples. Clark, Director of Geochemistry and Isotope Laboratories in the Faculty of Science Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa, will lead research into the chemistry of the water.
Also present was Elizabeth Priebe, a hydrogeologist with the Ontario Geological Survey. She’s part of a major effort the OGS undertook in the wake of the Walkerton tragedy to map groundwater across southern Ontario with the goal of determining how protected the aquifers are.
OGS have been working in Simcoe County since 2011, she said. She was here because “we’re just interested in the area…. We’re interested in how it fits.”
OGS won’t be part of a study for which the scientists will be seeking funding but will work informally with them as the project unfolds, she said.