Sept. 2014, Belleville

Area residents say dry wells may become a reality if Long’s Quarry continues to pump groundwater away to facilitate deeper extraction.

The quarry, located on Shannonville Road, has been pumping water towards the bay since the mid-90s and members of the community are concerned that if it continues, the water table could sink and cut off the water supply, said Susan Munro.

The proponent, CH Demill Holdings Inc, has conducted geological studies of the area and concluded that this is not a significant risk, however, peer review done by Malroz Engineering has indicated otherwise. Malroz Engineering was hired by the organization Citizens Against Melrose Quarry.

Munro is the chair of Citizens Against Melrose Quarry which is currently waiting for permission to appeal the Ministry of the Environment’s June decision to renew the quarry’s Permit To Take Water or PTTW.

Munro said she is afraid that there could be a ‘pop up’ which is when the quarry floor buckles and water rushes up into the quarry. If this happens, she said it is possible that the surrounding water table would sink below the level of wells in the area.

This happened at a quarry near Kingston, she said. “The water drained away and the city of Kingston had to pipe water out to residents.” She said it’s a similar type of terrain in and around Long’s Quarry.

In a statement to the Environmental Review Tribunal, John Pyke, an environmental geoscientist with Malroz Engineering, said:

“Despite the terms and conditions contained within the new PTTW, the large-scale dewatering activities at the existing Long’s Quarry and/or proposed Melrose Quarry have the clear potential to cause unacceptable or significant impacts to local domestic wells and Blessington Creek.

“The proponent’s claims that quarry dewatering will not cause adverse groundwater or surface water impacts have not been adequately substantiated by scientifically sound investigations, and appear contrary to the proponent’s own modelling which predicts impacts upon nearby domestic wells.”

However, Tony Fleming, a lawyer hired by the company, said that in consideration of the technical data he’s seen the possibility of a pop up is not an issue at Long’s Quarry.

“The water that we’re talking about is a very deep aquifer and it’s also what they call a highly mineralized aquifer which means the water is not of good quality,” he said. He also said he was not aware of any, or very few wells, that actually tap that aquifer. “Most of the wells that are in the area are what are called shallow wells,” he said.

He said that if the aquifer was adversely affected, it would only affect a very small number of wells, if any.

An aquifer is a layer of permeable rock, gravel or sand that can absorb or contain water.

Munro said that in 1994 there actually was a small pop up. Because of this, their permit was not renewed in 2005. The permit was not reissued until 2012, she said.

“If the MOE was doing their job and there was a pop up and they denied him a permit to take water, what changed? Did he come to them a number of years later and say ‘Look I’ve got all these studies’? No, they gave him a permit to work while he got the studies. Is that right?” she said.

Asked if the water table would recover in the case of a pop up she said: “I think you need to get on your knees and ask the good Lord above because in Westbrook it didn’t come back. The pop up that happened over here in 1994, it did come back. Nobody knows.”

Munro said she would be more comfortable if the proponent was carrying insurance to cover the cost of drilling new wells and installing filtration systems should the water table drop. “We wouldn’t have so much to harp on, would we? But that isn’t the case,” she said.

CH Demill Holdings is also going through the process to be approved to build a second adjacent quarry which is being called the Melrose Quarry.

The preposed quarry would be about 60 acres essentially doubling the size and output of the current quarry and potentially causing even more danger of dewatering, said Munro. Both quarries would be producing about 500,000 tons of aggregate a year.

She said she was also concerned about the increased number of loaded dump trucks that would be needed. There are already about 96 trucks leaving the quarry and driving past Tyendinaga Public School each day, she said.

“That is an accident waiting for a place to happen.”

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