Drought or dig­ging? Why are wells dry?

The Glengarry News - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVEN WARBURTON News Staff

North Glen­garry’s Pub­lic Works De­part­ment is claim­ing that the dry weather, not ex­ca­va­tion work, is what’s be­hind wa­ter woes cur­rently fac­ing some res­i­dents of Maxville.

It’s been a long sum­mer for the vil­lage as res­i­dents have had to con­tend with ex­ca­va­tion crews dig­ging up streets in order to in­stall wa­ter pipes so that the vil­lage can draw wa­ter from Alexan­dria.

Joshua Lip­son no­ticed that his wa­ter ser­vice was af­fected shortly af­ter ex­ca­va­tion crews be­gan work­ing near his prop­erty on Me­chanic Street East.

“You can get a shower for about three min­utes and then it starts cough­ing up sed­i­ment,” he says. “When I turn on the kitchen tap, it coughs, spews, dries up for a bit and even­tu­ally it turns black.”

His wife, Brit­tany, says that the sit­u­a­tion has made it dif­fi­cult to wash dishes. The young fam­ily has been forced to buy 18-litre wa­ter jugs, which they use for drink­ing, wash­ing, and bathing their 15-month-old daugh­ter, Piper. Mr. Lip­son has reached out to the con­trac­tor, Clarence McDon­ald Ex­ca­va­tion Ltd., for a so­lu­tion.

He was told that he couldn’t prove the work caused the well to run dry.

He’s not alone. Mr. Lip­son’s neigh­bour, Fran­coise Cadieux, says her wa­ter was af­fected on the day dig­ging be­gan.

She says she had no wa­ter Septem­ber 21 or

the fol­low­ing week­end. She says the wa­ter is back now but “not as strong as be­fore.”

For his part, North Glen­garry’s Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor, Ryan Mor­ton, main­tains the cause is very much sea­sonal and not con­struc­tion re­lated.

“We en­gaged a hy­dro­ge­ol­o­gist, South Na­tion Con­ser­va­tion, the en­gi­neer on the project and the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment re­gard­ing wells run­ning dry,” he told The

News via a Sept. 27 email. “All par­ties agreed that we were not the source of the prob­lem. The SN con­ser­va­tion author­ity re­ported that mul­ti­ple peo­ple were re­port­ing their wells run­ning dry that have not run dry be­fore around the Maxville area and in within their ju­ris­dic­tion.”

Mr. Mor­ton says that ex­ca­va­tors are dig­ging down to depths of six and eight feet for most of the project. “This is con­trasted against 400 homes and/or busi­nesses us­ing wa­ter from a much deeper point, there­fore the ex­ist­ing users of the ground­wa­ter would have a much larger im­pact than the con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties,” he says.

He adds that there is oc­ca­sional pump­ing to keep work sites dry, “but those times are few and far be­tween and would re­sult in only a few hun­dred litres of near sur­face wa­ter each time.”

But Mr. Lip­son isn’t buy­ing the town­ship’s story. He points out that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ex­pe­ri­enced four days of rain­fall and that didn’t do any­thing to rec­tify his well’s con­di­tion.

“My well is still the same,” he says, adding that last sum­mer was fairly dry too but that didn’t af­fect his wa­ter sup­ply.

He says the town­ship should help peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dry wells. In his case, he was able to pro­cure a trans­portable wa­ter tank, which he would like the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to fill for him.

And while Mr. Lip­son un­der­stands that when it’s com­pleted, the new wa­ter sys­tem should make dry wells a thing of the past, he’s con­cerned that this sit­u­a­tion could go on for about a year.

“Es­pe­cially since we may not be hooked up to the wa­ter lines un­til next sum­mer,” he says.


July 1, the South Na­tion Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity de­clared a mi­nor drought ad­vi­sory through­out its wa­ter­shed. Since then, the author­ity has not seen con­di­tions im­prove; in fact, it up­graded the ad­vi­sory to a mod­er­ate level for the Up­per South Na­tion River Re­gion, which in­cludes most of North Stor­mont and Dun­das County. “The rain­fall re­ceived in Au­gust and Septem­ber has been lo­cal­ized and in­suf­fi­cient to im­prove soil mois­ture, stream­flows, and ground­wa­ter lev­els,” says the author­ity.

“Cli­mate sta­tions near the head­wa­ters of the South Na­tion River in­di­cated less than 60 per cent of nor­mal pre­cip­i­ta­tion in the last three months.” The author­ity says that shal­low wells may go dry if drought con­di­tions worsen.

“Res­i­dents, busi­nesses and other in­dus­tries through­out the ju­ris­dic­tion can help by re­duc­ing their wa­ter con­sump­tion by 20 per cent, and lim­it­ing non-es­sen­tial uses (e.g. lawn wa­ter­ing, car wash­ing, etc.). Landown­ers should be aware of their mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s wa­ter and fire by-laws.”


WA­TER WOES: Joshua Lip­son and his wife, Brit­tany, say that their wa­ter sup­ply has all but dried up since ex­ca­va­tion for the Maxville Wa­ter Project started nearby.

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