Chelsea, Quebec councillor admits water ignorance

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by admin on March 9, 2011

The Editor,

Andrew Henry’s letter, “Reduced consumption solution for Chelsea water problem” (Low Down, March 2 edition), raises some fine points.

I do, however, wish to correct a few insinuations Mr. Henry has made. I have never stated that we have a water supply problem – never – we just don’t know. In addition, I most certainly do not dismiss or ignore water conservation measures by any means, but rather support them wholeheartedly.

More importantly, I do not justify the water line based on an exaggerated number of wells; with what’s left of the undeveloped land, and taking into consideration the average proposed densities of some of these projects, we can assume that there will be more than 700 new homes built. I do not suggest this as a “fait accomplit,” but we must be realistic.

Concerning the two proposed developments Mr. Henry cites – Chelsea Creek and Common Ground (representing fewer than 200 acres) – the first will be servicing approximately 200 homes and businesses from the water table; the second some 120 dwellings using surface water from the creek. It is my understanding, however, that the Quebec environment ministry does not favour surface water caption from small water sources, so we are left with few options but the aquifer.

Nonetheless, whether it concerns 1,000, 700 or just 500 homes, the question remains: how many more wells do we continue to allow into the aquifer, regardless of the consumption levels used?

I do not believe that even if the most stringent water reduction measures are adopted that this will solve Chelsea’s future water needs. Going to the river does answer the question of supply and will not negate environmental benefits as a result of reduced consumption. Nevertheless, the supply of water remains paramount.

A serious situation has arisen in Québec. Last summer alone, four municipalities were classified disaster zones due to a lack of potable water. This was not due to new development, but rather an aquifer subjected to new environmental conditions (lack of rain and a diminished replenishment) and we can assume there will be more this year. If Chelsea has a water system in place, in addition to a water-reduction initiative, we may be able to protect our aquifer for generations to come.

I wish to commend Mr. Henry, though. His criticism is honest, but most of all constructive. From what I gather, Mr. Henry is willing to explore a wide range of solutions other than what I am suggesting. I am ready to listen.

Marcel Gauvreau

Chelsea, Quebec

Ed. note: Marcel Gauvreau is the Ward 2 councillor in Chelsea.