• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Why is this beautiful spring water so clean? a letter from Dr. Shotyk

In AWARE News Network
Jan 23rd, 2020

The 15 artesian flows that have been sampled since 1999

Open Letter to the General Public, regarding chemical analyses of artesian flows in the Elmvale area

by William Shotyk and colleagues Springwater News

At a public meeting early last year, the representative of an aggregate mining company (Dufferin Aggregates, part of CRH Incorporated, Dublin, Ireland) cited one of my scientific publications about groundwater quality in the vicinity of Elmvale, and indicated that I had tested samples from only two artesian springs in the area, one being located on our family farm property.

These remarks may have left the public with the impression that I have published a single paper on the topic, and only studied two artesian flows. In fact, some of the results of my testing have appeared in seven, peer-reviewed journal publications. Moreover, in those publications, it is clearly indicated that the waters being tested were collected from 15 artesian flows in the area. The list of our publications, numbered in chronological ordered, is appended to this letter.

To help avoid possible misunderstandings in future, we have created the map attached which shows the approximate locations of the 15 artesian flows that I have been testing in the area, since 1990. I very much hope that you will publish this map along with my letter. From 1990 to 2000, testing was done in my laboratory at the University of Berne in Switzerland; from 2000 to 2011, in my laboratory at the University of Heidelberg in Germany; since 2011, in my laboratory at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The labs in Heidelberg and Edmonton are both metal-free, ultraclean labs designed specifically to enable the reliable determination of trace elements in pristine natural waters.

The purpose of my letter is simply to

1. correct the public record about the number of artesian flows tested to date, and

2. to ask your readers who have artesian flows on their properties, or know of other artesian flows in the area, to contact me, to help further our on-going research. I can be reached by email as follows: bill(AT)elmvale(DOT)org. Got a flow ? Let me know !

Our measurements of antimony (Sb) in these pristine waters led us to find that all bottled waters in PET plastic are contaminated with Sb leaching from the containers. Similarly, using this same spring water as our reference, we found that bottled waters in glass are contaminated with Pb leaching from the containers. To say it another way, these spring waters represent a kind of “gold standard” against which other waters have been compared. Because the water is so clean, I have had to design and construct dedicated groundwater sampling wells for my research. Since my presentation to Simcoe County Council in 2006, when I first described the remarkable quality of the water to area politicians and administrative staff, we have installed three dedicated groundwater sampling wells to support our research. In fact, this water is SO clean, the air must be filtered when we sample, to prevent the water becoming contaminated by ambient air.

Why is this beautiful spring water so clean ? At the same public meeting last year, the representative of the aggregate mining company had suggested that the clay minerals which dominate the glacial lake sediments of the groundwater discharge zone (ie. the Simcoe Lowlands), are responsible for the quality of the water. This suggestion is extremely unlikely because the water being tested in all of our studies is sampled from the aquifer underneath the lake sediments. It is far more reasonable to expect that the water filtration process takes place predominantly in the soils which cover the hills to the east (ie the Simcoe Uplands), consisting of glacial deposits.

To help us all better understand these unique, artesian groundwater flows systems, an interdisciplinary team of scientists has been assembled from several universities, to bring all available expertise to bear on this topic. We welcome the active participation of all interested parties, including the aggregate mining industry, to support this initiative.

For further information about the project currently being planned, I encourage your readers to contact me.

Sincerely, William Shotyk, Ph.D. , Dr. rer. nat. habil., P.Ag., FRSC
President, Elmvale Foundation

Jill Dunlop, MPP, Simcoe North
Bruce Stanton, MP, Simcoe North
Springwater Township Council
Tay Township Council
Tay Township Council
Simcoe County Council
Elmvale Foundation, Board of Directors
Elmvale Foundation, Science Advisory Board
Prof. John Cherry, University of Guelph
Prof. Beth Parker, University of Guelph
Prof. Ian Clark, University of Ottawa
Dr. Michael Krachler, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Directorate Nuclear Safety and Security
Dr. James Zheng, Natural Resources Canada, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa
SWAMP laboratory members, past and present


3 Responses to “Why is this beautiful spring water so clean? a letter from Dr. Shotyk”

  1. Don Morgan says:

    Thanks for this Bill. It is sad, that like the leadership south of the border, our leadership here in Ontario would like to ignore extensive proof and allow an Irish owned aggregate company, destroy this purest Water sustaining life for most of South Central Parts of our Province. Somewhere between 3 and 5 million people, This makes no sense and yet our MOE and MNR continue to approve water taking in the millions of litres to wash gravel instead of protecting it for human consumption.

  2. Jeannine Hutty says:

    I drive regularly to Elmvale to fill large jugs with this pristine water to drink and cook with. Orillia tap water where I live smells so strongly of chlorine that it is like drinking swimming pool water. I also recently found out that 60 chemicals from cigarette butts tossed into Lake Couchiching cannot be filtered out of the drinking water. I don’t know what I will do if this artesian water ceases to be so pure and gets contaminated by the aggregate company. I REFUSE to buy bottled water – these companies like Nestle are stealing water from our rivers and lakes for free and destroying habitats and live giving water for all species including us.

  3. Jinping Xue says:

    I am very interested in this topic as I found it is of great significance to get it resolved why the water is so clean. Currently, a lot of studies are focusing on some contaminated sites (i.e., mining areas), few of them are related to the natural systems with high-quality resources, which can absolutely give a force to protect it and set a very good example for the scientific groups of geochemistry. For the groundwater, I know that Dr. Shotyk has been studying it for decades. I could imagine how big an influence Dr. Shotyk will make to the world regarding the water protection through the research prior to start. 

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