Jeff Green | Aug 14, 2008
Feature Article - August 14, 2008
Back toHomeFeature Article - August 14, 2008 Rubbing salt in their woundsBy Jeff Green
Digging out a cistern at the Lowery residence. In the background is the salt dome that replaced a sand/salt pile that caused contamination on adjacent lands. Salt domes are now mandatory in Ontario.
Neighbours of the Lowerys, who live on Road 38 just to the south of the Central Frontenac Hinchinbrooke works yard, have asked them about the fancy inground swimming pool they are putting in.
“This will be no swimming pool,” said Cindy Lowery on Tuesday as she watched a crew from Crains Construction prepare to do some more blasting within metres of the house she has lived in for the past 20 years.
The hole that is being dug is for a cistern, which will be used to provide the Lowerys with “an entire or 'whole-house water supply' of potable water” in accordance with a Provincial Officer’s order from the Ministry of the Environment that was imposed on the Township of Central Frontenac on June 2.
The cistern is being put in two weeks after it was supposed to be completed according to the work order, and almost three years to day after Jon Morrish from the Ministry of the Environment took water samples at the home of the Clows, who live just north of the works yard, and the Lowerys, who live just to the south.
The results of the sampling showed “elevated sodium concentration, (922 ppm)” according to the observations Morrish included with the work order.
“The salt is believed to be originating from the mixed salt/sand pile at the neighbouring municipal yard,” Morrish wrote.
A couple of months later a hydrogeologist with the MoE concluded that “the township needed to take action to permanently restore the water quality for all of the residents adversely affected by the salt storage at the works yard and that bottled water or water treatment for potable uses should be provided in the meantime.”
“We have been receiving drinking water ever since,” said Paul Lowery, “but nothing else has happened until now, and we have had tremendous damage to our pipes, our appliances, our clothes, everything, for the past three years.”
The Lowerys say they have replaced their water heater, dishwasher, their sink, and lots of clothes since 2005.
“It's really disgusting what's happened in our house,” said Paul Lowery, “and nobody from the township has contacted us in over three years, since this started, until [Chief Administrative Officer] John Duchene contacted us last week to let us know the Crains were coming”.
There has been periodic contact throughout the past three years, according to Jon Morrish's account, between the township’s solicitor, Tim Wilkins, and Angus Macleod, the lawyer who is working for the Lowerys, as well as the Clows and the Hickeys, who farm on land to the west of the works yard.
According to Morrish's account, the township engaged Golder and Associates in December of 2005, and notes that some of the delays in resolving the situation come from a reluctance from Mr. Macleod to respond to Tim Wilkins’ letters, and from the municipal election in 2006.
John Duchene has been the interim Chief Administrative Officer for the township since early 2007, and when interviewed he said, “The township has been working towards resolving this. We have been trying to get this done. Now I realise this is not dealing with all the issues that concern the residents, but we have been trying to resolve this.”
On several occasions during the past three years, according to Morrish's account, an agreement seemed to be in sight, but at a meeting between lawyers and MoE officials on April 30, it was agreed that if no agreement could be reached by May 30, a work order would be issued.
The order was issued on June 2, and it required that the job to be completed by August 1, with a report to be submitted by August 15.
“You can imagine what would happen if I missed a deadline for a provincial work order,” said Paul Lowery, “but here we are on the 12th, and they will be blasting tomorrow. I was supposed to go on a family vacation in Prince Edward Island this Friday, but I can't go as long as this is going on. They will have to pour concrete once they've dug this out, and then someone has to get the water to the house. I need to wait here and see this gets finished”.
But even when the water supply is sound, the Lowerys will not be home free.
“We still have damaged plumbing, and we have a house that can't be sold. They say it will be 15 to 20 years until the water in the ground will be potable. I'll be ready to go into a home by then,” said Paul Lowery.