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Great Lakes Article:

Area groundwater study results positive
By Peter Geigen-Miller
London Free Press

Most areas of Middlesex and Elgin counties have adequate groundwater supplies that are generally cheap and of good quality, a study has found.

The Middlesex-Elgin groundwater study is one of 32 being done provincewide to map a resource that supplies well water to tens of thousands of Ontarians.

Ontario's Environment Ministry has sponsored the studies in a bid to understand and protect groundwater resources.

The local study area included Middlesex, London, St. Thomas and Elgin, with the exception of Bayham Township.

Bayham was included in the Norfolk County study.

In Elgin and Middlesex, 86,000 people rely on groundwater for their water and 60,000 of them draw it from private wells, said Rob Kell, project manager with Dillon Consulting.

"Generally, the groundwater is quite good . . . but you do have some local problems," Kell said. "For the most part, there are no ticking time bombs with respect to groundwater supplies."

Strathroy-Caradoc is an exception, because it lies on a sand plain with a falling water table, making it increasingly difficult to meet growing demand from municipal wells.

The Middlesex municipality is considering a Lake Huron pipeline connection to ensure adequate future supplies.

Kell said recent dry summers have affected groundwater supplies.

Besides mapping aquifers in the two counties, consultants studied potential threats to water supplies, including underground fuel storage tanks, long-closed landfills and salt storage domes.

"We mapped those across the study area," said Brad Benson of Golder Associates.

The consultants also surveyed groundwater "capture zones" around municipal wellheads to see if there were any potential threats.

One such threat is wells that are not properly built or are improperly abandoned when no longer in use.

Wells can provide a short circuit for contaminants through protective clays into the aquifer, Kell said.

Draft findings from the study were presented at an open house at the Middlesex County building in London.


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