SUMMARY OF CAMBRIDGE DRINKING WATER REPORTS

Five broad points regarding Cambridge’s 2013 Annual Drinking Water Report.
1) Numerous ubiquitous or less so chemical compounds are not being reported.
2) The Region of Waterloo have full knowledge of serious industrial/chemical contamination in multiple Cambridge drinking wells.
3) The Region are “managing” this contamination via a number of methods including dilution/blending, redrilling & steel liners, temporary shutdowns, pumping rate adjustments, permanent shutdowns, purge wells and chemical treatment.
4) The Region are skating on very thin ice. Well G9 has TCE concentrations within it’s capture zone as high as 50 ppb. The Middleton Wellfields TCE chemical treatment can lose efficiency above 10 ppb and they are too close for comfort in some wells.
5) The Region have lied like dogs to the public. This is a strong statement and may well be a result of my ever lessening tolerance of bureaucratic/government bafflegab, misdirection and weasel wording.

1) NDMA, Toluene, Xylenes, Ethylbenzene and TCA (trichloroethane) appear to never be reported in any wells. These are common and ubiquitous in southern Ontario groundwater courtesy of gas stations and industrial facilities. Each and every one of these are in Cambridge’s groundwater yet they are not reported nor allegedly tested for. Lead, pharmaceuticals, Dioxins, Chloramines, THMs (trihalomethanes) and Haloacetic Acids are not consistently reported. The last three may be a by-product of bacterial disinfection of groundwater but they should consistently be reported. Nitrates are an issue both in rural parts of the Region as well as in some Cambridge wells. I believe individuals with heart problems need to become aware if the wells servicing their homes have high Nitrates.

2) The Region in their on-line Grand River Source Protection Areas report, much to my pleasant surprise are being straightforward about industrial and agricultural contamination of groundwater. They freely admit the issues with TCE (trichloroethlyene) they have in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. They still aren’t admitting to industrial contamination of the long closed Forwell and Pompeii Systems downgradient of Safety-Kleen. They simply are refusing to point fingers at Northstar, Ciba-Geigy (Novartis) and Canadian General Tower. Ditto with Canbar and Sunar in Waterloo.

3) Again in their Grand River Source Protection Areas report they advise of these various “management” methods. Also some of their Annual Reports indicate upgrades from steel liners and redrilling to deeper/cleaner “producing intervals”. Enhanced treatment at long last is occurring at the Middleton Wellfield.

4) Back in 1986 TCE was discovered in the Strange St. Wellfield in Kitchener. As it was at 3 ppb. and the standard then was 30 ppb. The Region’s consultants advised putting the wells back into production as the water was needed. If concentrations rose closer to the then standard then some form of treatment would be required. The current Ontario standard is 5 ppb. and there are American jurisdictions with TCE standards of 1 and 3 ppb. Taste and odour problems in the Woolner Wellfield along the Grand River just downriver from the Forwell and Pompeii Systems have long been a problem. Algae and perhaps upriver Phenols have made summer months problematic.

At one point the Region were using chlorine and sodium chlorite to mask these odour and taste problems. Apparently sodium chlorite at the time was known to cause human health problems.

I would suggest that “managing” contamination can run perilously close to mismanaging it.

Source removal and proper cleanup from the get go makes more sense than “managing” it for the next half century or more.

5) In their Grand River Source Protection Areas report the Region claim that they don’t know the source of TCE in well G9 in Cambridge. Really?

Just off the top of my head I seem to recall Control Orders and cleanups at possibly Allen Bradley, Long Manufacturing and perhaps even Rockwell Automation.

In Elmira the first misdirection came from the M.O.E. telling us in 1989 that NDMA came from the grease used in the well pumps rather than from Uniroyal Chemical.

Recently Debbie Vitez has commented in the Cambridge Advocate about an M.O.E. employee stating that they didn’t know the source of TCE in the Middleton Wellfield. Unbelievable.

What to do?

Phone, e-mail, fax or write Letters to the Editor.

Go to Regional Council and or your Municipal Councils and advocate for greater transparency and fuller communication about your water systems.

Give praise for better water treatment but demand first rate cleanups of contaminated sites in your community.

Demand citizen and public accountability from your local politicians.

Let them know that you have far more votes than the polluters who may be donating to their campaigns.

Read, listen and become discerning especially when you listen to what politicians are saying.

They are masters at being on both sides of an issue.

Become informed.

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6 Responses to SUMMARY OF CAMBRIDGE DRINKING WATER REPORTS

  1. fafa@golden.net'
    Debbie Duff Vitez March 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    google these chemicals.. they are all deadly.. and the odds of them being present in your drinking water is very high..
    WHY ISN’T YOUR CURRRENT COUNCIL DOING MORE TO PROTECT YOU, is the Question you should be asking each and everyone of them/strong>
    They did work on the Tower, only after.. Alan Marshall, Rob Konduros and I…went after the city..
    This is not good enough… DEMAND MORE CAMBRIDGE

    1) NDMA, Toluene, Xylenes, Ethylbenzene and TCA (trichloroethane) appear to never be reported in any wells. These are common and ubiquitous in southern Ontario groundwater courtesy of gas stations and industrial facilities. Each and every one of these are in Cambridge’s groundwater yet they are not reported nor allegedly tested for.
    Lead, pharmaceuticals, Dioxins, Chloramines, THMs (trihalomethanes) and
    Haloacetic Acids are not consistently reported.

    The last three may be a by-product of bacterial disinfection of groundwater but they should consistently be reported. Nitrates are an issue both in rural parts of the Region as well as in some Cambridge wells. I believe individuals with heart problems need to become aware if the wells servicing their homes have high Nitrates.

  2. grenlouwhite@hotmail.com'
    Louise White March 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    My water smells like chlorine every morning, is it safe to drink ? I would like my water to be tested…..who do I contact for this.

  3. mcmrjeannotte@rogers.com'
    MM Jeannotte March 4, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    My water as of late tastes like chlorine in the morning as well….we shall be more vigilant in this process of being more informed and involved in insuring that the water is being treated properly and safely

  4. agmarshall@rogers.com'
    Alan Marshall March 5, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I always turn on my kitchen tap first thing in the morning and let it run for a minute to clean out chlorine odours and any lead that may have leached from soldered plumbing joints overnite. Then and only then do I fill my Brita filter. If you’re on a private well the region will test your water for free for bacteria only. A phone call will confirm the location but we used to take our well water in West Montrose to a regional health unit on the corner of Regina and William St. in Waterloo. To test for industrial chemicals, solvents, pesticides on your own is extremely expensive (a few thousand??) and would require the services of a private, commercial lab. If you have a relative working in a modern lab at one of our local universities with knowledge of mass spectrometers you might get a break. Otherwise it’s nearly impossible to sucessfully test your tap water on your own. Sorry for the bad news.

  5. fafa@golden.net'
    Debbie Duff Vitez March 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Alan,
    What needs to be done to clean this water situation in Cambridge?
    ( you know the water that Ministry of Environment and Cambridge Council insist is safe)

  6. fafa@golden.net'
    Alan Marshall March 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Cambridge needs to shut down their current wells such as Middleton after they’ve drilled alternate wells probably outside of the city.

    Piping and infrastructure costs would be a bitch but continuing with wells near C.G.T and Ciba-Geigy (Novartis) is ridiculous and dangerous. Using a steel liner and drilling deeper at P6 down-gradient of Northstar was stupid, short sighted and ultimately unsuccessful.

    The Region are “managing” their contamination instead of re-mediating it.

    Possibly the bedrock beneath C.G.T. and the Middleton wellfield is a lost cause.

    Ciba however could probably for a price be cleaned up better.

    Same with Allen Bradley/Long Mfg. etc..

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