• James Armstrong

Vaudreuil-Dorion aqueduct installation plagued by contaminated land issues


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Glyn Jones and his neighbours continue to pay for the defunct Ritchie well but the town has agreed to reimburse a pro-rated portion.

A new hurdle in the continuing saga of the installation of the potable water aqueduct serving the Tree Farm and Hudson Acres residents came to light when resident Glyn Jones had a conversation with Vaudreuil-Dorion District 4 Councillor Céline Chartier. Jones was questioning Chartier about a loan by-law payment notice for the now defunct Ritchie well that once provided potable water to the area. ”During the conversation, she informed me that one of the government bodies is concerned about possible environmental contamination resulting from water running off contaminated land,” Jones told The Journal on Monday, April 16.

Clay dam protection

In an interview on Tuesday, April 17, Chartier said that the contaminated land in question is in the vicinity of chemin des Sables and rue Crevier on the south side of Harwood. “It’s a length of about 800 metres of aqueduct that will be protected by individual clay dams,” said Chartier. She described them as clay bridges surrounding the pipe approximately a metre wide.

According to the town’s Director of Urban Planning Olivier Van Neste, the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC) raised concerns about soil contamination along the route of the new water aqueduct.

IMAGE COURTESY VILLE DE VAUDREUIL-DORION

A diagram of a clay dam used to divert contaminated water away from the potable water aqueduct.

“Since we are digging a trench for the new pipe, it could create a waterway for water draining from the area,” Van Neste told The Journal. He said the solution proposed by the ministry is the construction of clay dams to divert the water flow away from the aqueduct.

“We hope it doesn’t delay the project,” said Van Neste emphasizing that the risk of contamination of the potable water supply is low. He said the added cost of the clay dams would be covered by the loan by-law and the grant from the Quebec government covering 50 per cent of the project. The aqueduct would be installed on the north side of Harwood.

Land contamination history

The issue of contaminated land goes back to 2005 and is linked to the Gruenwald Enterprises Inc. site located at the end of chemin des Sables as described by Van Neste. “It’s been an ongoing legal battle between the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion and the company for many years. It was settled with an out of court agreement in 2017,” stated Van Neste adding the agreement included a piece of land being given to the town for conservation purposes.

Ritchie well loan by-law repayment

The notice residents of the Ritchie sector received was the renewal of the loan taken out by the town to pay for the construction of the Ritchie well according to Chartier. “They have the option to pay off the balance now or continue to pay it in their taxes,” she said. Although the well is no longer being used and is currently being dismantled, Chartier said, according to the law, the loan has to be repaid.

“There were questions about residents being reimbursed for part of the loan,” she added. Chartier spoke with Mayor Guy Pilon about the reimbursement issue that was raised at a citizen information meeting held in February, 2017.

Van Neste confirmed on Thursday, April 19 that property owners paying for the Ritchie well would be reimbursed a pro-rated amount based on the term of the loan and the amount they had paid. He said once the new loan by-law for the aqueduct was in place, the town would pay the balance of the Ritchie well loan.

“It has to be fair for everyone,” said Van Neste noting that residents in the affected sectors have had access to running water and the town has supplied them with bottled potable water throughout the ordeal.

Background of the issues

In October, 2013, the presence of enterococci bacteria was discovered in the Hudson Acres well. Although that well was equipped with a disinfection system, it no longer met the norms adopted by Quebec in 2001 and a boil water advisory was issued. In April, 2014, a camera inspection of the well revealed a perforation.

Problems with the Ritchie well surfaced in December 2015 when it developed a crack and the quality of the water rapidly deteriorated. The Ritchie well was closed in January, 2016 and the Hudson Acres well, despite its problems, was delegated to supply the Ritchie sector as a boil water advisory was issued for the Ritchie network.

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