Several residents in the area where the Elmsley project is under construction have developed problems with e-coli, chloroform and sediment in their water, according to CTV News. It is believed by some that the drilling of 14,000 support beam holes for the 168,000 panels has caused the water quality issues.
Rideau Lakes Mayor Ron Holman is succinct in summing up how he feels about the municipality’s plight in a developing water quality issue that may be related to the massive Elmsley solar panel installation project in the area of Bay Road and Highway 15.
“Under the Green Energy Act, the municipalities are basically out of the picture when it comes to planning issues in regard to solar farms,” he told The Recorder and Times Thursday.
Holman has made his concerns with the lack of control municipalities have in this regard known before, and now a new problem has arisen in relation to the plethora of solar projects currently planned or underway in the Rideau Lakes area.
Several residents in the area where the Elmsley project is under construction have developed problems with e-coli, chloroform and sediment in their water, according to CTV News.
It is believed by some that the drilling of 14,000 support beam holes for the 168,000 panels has caused the water quality issues.
Holman said the issue shines more light on the potential problems related to solar panel projects that can arise for residents who have no control over them.
He said he has sent a resolution to MPP Steve Clark to take to the Ontario Legislature, asking the Ontario government to make three amendments to the Green Energy Act.
The first, he said, is that the minimum distance for installation near residential property needs to be increased.
“There has to be a number put in there somewhat similar to what it is for (wind) turbines,” he said. “Right now, under the present format, with the planning control taken away from the municipalities, they can install these farms right up adjacent to your property. That’s not fair to the residents and as we’re finding out from this particular facility, with the amount of drilling going on, it’s possibly having an impact on their water.
The second recommendation is that base water testing be increased.
“There should be a base water testing done for all residents bordering the facility prior to any construction commencing,” he said.
And thirdly, he wants the municipality to be given control of landscaping work for the lands on which the farms are to be built. This would allow for “buffering” to protect residents from any potential affects of the projects, he said.
EDF EN Canada, the company conducting the Elmsley project says it disputes suggestions that the drilling is affecting the quality of residents water on a number of grounds.
Jon Kieran, solar director for the company, told The Recorder and Times in an interview Thursday evening that the company has conducted numerous tests on the water supply in the area in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment, and has found no conclusive evidence the drilling is the cause of the contaminated water supplies.
He said some of the water issues pre-date the drilling.
“Some of the concerns about the quality of the water in the area are not following, or a result of, the project in Rideau Lakes,” he said. “They are ongoing concerns in the community.”
He estimated there have been “almost three dozen” tests conducted on water in the area — both independent tests funded by the company, and tests done by the Ministry of the Environment.
“In all but one test, as I understand it – and that test was a bit of an anomaly, in fact -the test results clearly showed compliance with all ministry guidelines,” he said. “I’m adamant in my view that EDF EN is in total compliance with the Ministry of the Environment.”
He said the company provided potable water to houses in the vicinity of the project earlier in the project and is “determined to be a good neighbour.”
Kieran said the drilling will be finished in about two weeks.
In the meantime, Holman may still have some frustrated residents on his hands.
“Some of these facilities should not be built, or even proposed in the locations that they are — particularly where it’s this close to residents,” he said. “The residents have every right to be disturbed when they can come in and have 14,000 holes drilled right next to you.”