By  | June 6, 2018 | 2 Comments | Filed under: Cambridge's Dirty Drinking Water

First some big picture items. Far too many of the Cambridge wells are identified by number only. That is totally ridiculous to enable residents to know if their closest wells likely supplying their households are up to snuff in comparison with other raw water sources around Cambridge. While well systems such as the Shades Mill System and the Pinebush System may be helpful in letting residents know where their water is coming from, listing wells by number only such as G4, G5, G6, G9, P6, P9 is totally unhelpful and in fact downright deceptive. Give an address or something so residents know which wells are better and which are worse. For example which wells are located near the former Ciba-Geigy (Novartis?), which are near the Cambridge Landfill, which are near Northstar Aerospace etc..

Way too many Cambridge wells are MIA -missing in action. No explanation, no idea as to whether they were polluted, what they were polluted with (bacteria, solvents etc.), whether they have a mechanical breakdown that will be repaired etc.. It would also help if the Region’s on-line Annual Reports (drinking water) went back a few years as they used to rather than only posting two years worth and then advising to contact them directly for older reports. On-line reports are supposed to save everybody time and energy not give them the runaround. Speaking of runaround where did these Cambridge wells go and why? P2, P5, P6, P7, G10, G11, G12 and G13? O.K. I know what happened to the two wells closest to Northstar Aerospace (P6 & P7) although that’s no thanks to the Region of Waterloo.

Getting back to all the Annual Reports for the different wells and well systems in Cambridge I have a bone to pick with the Region and the City. The Annual Reports have recently added a column for HAA results. That’s right HAA. Any idea what the hell that is? Well it stands for Haloacetic Acids which are toxic by-products of disinfection. Similarly THMs are Trihalomethanes which are also toxic by-products of adding chlorine to the water ie. the disinfection system. However the Annual Reports may have a column for HAAs and THMs but they don’t have a concentration present. There is a reference to the individual municipal reports claiming that that is where they can be found. What the hell, put them in the Regional Annual Reports where they belong. Anyways after some serious digging I found them. Sort of. In the City of Cambridge Annual Report they have a single concentration for ALL the wells for the YEAR. Yup it’s an annual average of all the Cambridge wells for the entire year. That folks is lying by numbers as it’s totally useless.

Oh and I found another well to add to yesterday’s list of wells shut down either entirely or for numerous months in 2017. That would be well G9 which again no thanks to the Region of Waterloo, I know where it is located. It is in the south end of Cambridge not far from the Allen-Bradley plant. This well has historically had low levels of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in it for decades. Maybe the levels have risen, maybe something else has been found, who knows. It was shut down for the entire year.

Numerous Cambridge wells have allegedly been twinned. G4 now has G4A combined with it. Similarly H4 has H4A, H5 has H5A, G5 has G5A. My strong suspicion is that the original wells are contaminated with either industrial or agricultural chemicals and the second twinned well is screened at a different, less contaminated depth in the aquifer. This may be bolstered by the fact that there have been low levels of contaminants in the Hespeler wells for decades (H3, H4 & H5). Also as mentioned yesterday three Hespeler wells are either decommissioned (H3) or shut down for the whole year (H4 & H5). Finally well G4 was shut down for 40 weeks last year and well G5A for the entire year. This twinning of the wells ie. adding a second well at the same location has only been going on for the last five years or so.

Finally I need to also point out that Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup continues to have an outrageously high Method Detection Limit of 25 parts per billion (ppb). Advising us that Glyphosate is <25 ppb (less than 25 ppb) is shameful and outrageous and I don’t care how high the current drinking water standard for Glyphosate is. We have a right to know what is in our water and if it’s there at 5, 10 or 15 ppb. then tell us directly!

Just for the record there are also two low level detections of a herbicide (metalochlor) and a solvent (dichloroethylene) at wells G6 and G5 respectively. It is no coincidence that these two wells are both near the old contaminated Ciba-Geigy plant.

Overall we are all drinking highly treated groundwater due to a history of negligent toxic waste disposal (& spills) by industry with Mickey Mouse enforcement and remediation if and when it is found.


  1. What kind of an audience do you think you are reaching with this post and if you can identify it do you really think they care in today’s fast pace and stressful environment they live and work in?


  2. Well among others are the residents of Cambridge. In fact usually the Cambridge Advocate website, with my O.K., picks up any postings I do about their drinking water. This is due to the thousands who were exposed to Trichloroethylene (TCE) courtesy of Northstar Aerospace on Bishop St.. Thousands upon thousands of others were and are exposed due to the ongoing low levels of TCE in their drinking water due to the Middlton Wellfield and nearby sources to it.


  3. Great and those are the explanations I think are needed along or within your post because that explains the purpose of this blog now. I guess no advocates jump on this in Cambridge so some Kudos to you for doing this. that Consulting company I suggested you start looks better all the time and since you are a friend I will cut my hourly rate in half for you on any tasks you assign me.


  4. Thank you.




  1. Debbie Duff Vitez June 6, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Alan, another great post.. Thank you from all of us.. Also..
    For the reader in case it’s not clear.. the letter.. i.e.. G… P… H..
    are simply GALT, PRESTON AND HESPELER.. and Alan is right..
    Why can’t they clarify the location of these wells and name them so we know..

    Tom Vann June 16, 2018 at 8:53 am

    So you have to inquire. Knowledge is control and that’s how it works. I like my baths so I can float my rubber duck and toy boat. I fill the tub and all I smell is chlorine. I open the window or hit the fan even in the winter. Chlorine eats your pipes, so imagine what it is doing to your body. Of course here in Preston where the Region don’t give a shit about us as our Dunbar well is still closed for repair (my ass) after what? a decade. Liars. Clean water is a joke that keeps on giving like cancer. Now that FORD is in lets hope it gets cleaned up. Well, I’m off to church to upset more people. Have a good day.

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