Norfolk council has concluded that piping water in from Haldimand is not only the solution to capacity issues in Port Dover, but a host of other water problems afflicting Simcoe, Waterford and Delhi.
“I am supportive of prioritizing getting water into Port Dover,” Simcoe Coun. Ian Rabbitts said at the Feb. 4 council meeting.
“It’s been a long time coming. I think we need to focus our priority on inter-municipal partnerships with Haldimand – getting water into Port Dover, fixing this clarifier (in Port Dover), and eventually bringing this water up into Simcoe and the other urban centres that serve the larger populations of Norfolk County.
“We’ve known for some time that we need to get off wells in Simcoe and across Norfolk. We’ve kicked the can so far down the road that we’ve hit a place where we’re having treatment issues and capacity issues. With the amount of infrastructure we have this is not sustainable.”
Rabbitts made his remarks before council approved a number of measures conducive to providing a “safe and secure water supply for all of Norfolk.”
Steps taken so far include co-operating with Haldimand County on a rate study to determine how Norfolk’s participation in its network would affect water prices in both municipalities.
As well, council has tapped MMM Group Ltd. — an engineering firm with knowledge of the county water system — to rework Norfolk’s master plan with a sole supplier in mind.
This direction emerged during a discussion of an urgent $5.6-million repair to the clarifier unit at the Nelson Street West treatment plant in Port Dover.
Following the province’s annual inspection of the Port Dover plant last year, the Ministry of the Environment ordered Norfolk to take immediate action before the clarifier fails.
The unexpected failure of filtration units at the plant was a problem in 2019. Now there are concerns Norfolk might have to tanker water into town at a cost of $30,000 a day if the aging plant fails in its entirety.
Jason Godby, Norfolk’s interim general manager of public works, said a temporary clarifier will be installed this fall to allow the work to proceed next winter and into the spring of 2021. The repair should be completed mid-year.
During the discussion, Godby spoke of other issues in Norfolk’s urban areas that rely on well water.
Waterford, for example, is served by two wells 55 feet apart. Council heard that Waterford would lose its water if even one of the wells were contaminated.
The situation in Delhi is similar. A report to council says a serious contamination event there would knock all four of the community’s wells out of commission.
Godby said urban engineers today design well systems with redundancy in mind. If one well has to close, there are others elsewhere to continue supplying the community.
In Simcoe, the issue is high sodium in places and iron content in general that prematurely wears out pumps and screens. Public works has noticed that the capacity of the seven wells serving Simcoe is diminishing, suggesting they are not reliable in the long run.
“It’s pretty clear from this report that we have a serious water issue across Norfolk County, not just Port Dover,” said Mayor Kristal Chopp.
“I think this needs to be elevated in importance to the province. We need to move on this now.”
A total solution is seen in the gigantic treatment plant that was built along the north shore of Lake Erie in Nanticoke when the province was planning the satellite city of Townsend near Jarvis 50 years ago.
The satellite city never materialized but the plant continues, to this day, to service Jarvis, Townsend, New Credit, Hagersville and the Nanticoke Industrial Park.
Last year, Chopp said her preferred solution in Port Dover is an $18-million pipeline from Jarvis. The mayor has been lobbying the province for support ever since.