Paris citizens concerned gravel extraction could affect Six Nations water

PARIS – Water quality in Paris is once again the topic of concern for some County of Brant citizens who have determined to double their efforts to protect their source water.

In a media release published by the Concerned Citizens of Brant, the group says it is following up on promises made and discussions about protection of water made during the recent municipal election campaigns. They also point to requests by the Lake Erie Source Protection Committee to protect vulnerable sites on wellhead protection areas.

“The CCOB have doubled their efforts to protect Paris’ source water,” says the release. “During the last three years CCOB has found scientific evidence that the planned Dufferin Aggregates Ltd. gravel extraction at the pit on Watt Ponds Road, even excluding below water table extraction, could not only affect the drinking water of Paris but also have negative effects for those who use water from the Grand River, such as Brantford and Six Nations.”

The group is calling for more consultation with the community before wholesale gravel mining begins in earnest.

The CCOB will host a letter writing campaign open house to help citizens have their say and to get their voice to the proper authorities.

“This Gravel Pit could have an impact on many more people than the CCOB originally projected,” says the release. “To accommodate the influx of all concerned citizens we have arranged Tuesday, Dec. 2nd and Wednesday December 3rd from 5-8 pm for signing letters at St. Paul’s United Church Auditorium in Paris.”

To accommodate those unable to attend, a petition can be downloaded at beginning Dec. 2nd.

The CCOB group was founded early in 2012 when a notification was delivered to inform citizens that a company intended on activating a 38-year-old license to extract gravel in the wellhead protection area of Paris’ water supply.

“Since that time, we have been actively pursuing the government for answers as to why a license, that is now 40 years old, is allowed to be activated after such a long dormancy when there are presently so many concerns regarding drinking water safety,” according to the group’s website. “Over a year later, those questions remain largely unanswered from our elected representatives.”

Research by not only the CCOB, but by many other groups that share our concerns, confirms that the aggregate industry has been deemed exempt from any such suggestion that they might impact our water. There has not been any science presented – just outdated regulations. The CCOB has found that the aggregate industry is protected from citizens and exempted from the laws that protect us at one of the highest levels of our law: the Provincial Policy Statement.

The proposed gravel pit is planned right on top of our non-renewable water supply in Paris’ wellhead protection area (within 100′ of wellheads) just as Brant County is finalizing its source water protection plan as set out by the Clean Water Act. The pit’s proponents plan on digging below the water table exposing our town’s aquifer to the elements and we feel risking contamination.

Nick Greenacre, a retired lecturer in environmental health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in England and former head of the Regional Network Centre for Water and Waste Management in East Africa, is researching the effects of gravel extraction below the water table in relation to a proposed 600-acre gravel pit to be located on both sides of Watts Pond Road north of Paris.

He has major concerns that 40-year-old government standards are obsolete compared to today’s more scientific methods of testing and standards.

“The most common herbicide used for corn has been atrazine, (a triazine herbicide), which is still in use in Ontario, often in combination with other herbicides,” writes Greenacre. “It is identified by Environment Canada as inherently toxic to humans and non-humans and in the top 100 most persistent organic pollutants. Atrazine is ranked highest of 83 pesticides in the Agriculture Canada priority scheme for potential groundwater pollution.With clear evidence of endocrine disrupting activity it has been rated as a Category 1 substance of high exposure concern by the European Union. Recent studies (2009) have documented persistence in soil and sub-soil of 22 years. Its use has been banned in Germany since 1994 and in the European Union since 2004.”

The washing of the aggregate is where these and other chemicals could be released into the river or water table.

Other studies have shown that above water extraction of aggregates increases Iron and Manganese in the run off water from the washing process. None of these concerns were addressed in the 40-year-old permit.

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