Drought or digging? Why are wells dry?
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.