Norfolk County is sending clear signals to the development community that the municipality’s urban areas are approaching their limits in terms of water-servicing capacity.
There is already a moratorium on new development in Port Dover due to capacity issues.
In a report to Norfolk council on Nov. 17, Jason Godby, interim general manager of public works, warned that the county will have to impose similar constraints on Simcoe, Waterford and Port Rowan in the absence of new supply in these communities. Only Delhi and Courtland are in good shape to accommodate new development for the foreseeable future.
“With all the bad news, the question is where are we going with this?” Godby said.
The “bad news” includes the following:
- Norfolk recently decommissioned two of seven wells in Simcoe because of high levels of sodium and iron. A serious, decades-old fuel spill at the county garage on the Queensway West is a threat to the well field and pumping facility on Cedar Street. Simcoe’s remaining wells are depleting while the quality of groundwater is deteriorating.
- The intake pipe in Long Point Bay supplying Port Rowan and St. Williams is prone to clogging due to algae and particulate matter.
- Waterford draws its water from the area of the Waterford Ponds, which Godby said is vulnerable to contamination. He said Waterford does not have sufficient processing capacity to accommodate a proposed extension of the Villages of Waterford subdivision from the former Hare farm on Main Street North to Townsend Concession Road 7.
- The reservoir at Lehman’s Dam has been a long-standing water supply for Delhi. Due to aging infrastructure and increasing concerns about water quality, this supply will be decommissioned in 2021. New wells have been drilled elsewhere to compensate for the loss.
Godby said the complex challenges facing Norfolk explain why county staff and Haldimand staff are discussing the feasibility of Norfolk tapping into the massive water treatment facility in Nanticoke.
Built in the 1970s next to the former Nanticoke Generating Station to service the “satellite city” of Townsend, the plant serves as the source of treated water for Jarvis, Townsend, Hagersville and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Running a pipeline from Nanticoke into Norfolk is Mayor Kristal Chopp’s preferred solution to the county’s supply issues. Preliminary discussions with the province have been held but the Ford government has made no commitments.
The estimated cost of a water main from Jarvis into Port Dover is about $19 million. The cost of connecting this source to Port Dover, Simcoe, Waterford and Delhi is in the range of $100 million.
“That was a multi-, multi-million dollar presentation,” Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus told Godby. “Obviously, we can’t do this alone.
“This type of development can’t be put on the back of our ratepayers. We have to start talking to the province and get this on the front burner. This is pretty serious stuff.”
In a subsequent interview, Chopp, who was absent from the meeting, said Godby’s recap of the water issues facing urban Norfolk was helpful. She said some on council don’t seem to grasp the magnitude of the problem and the threat it poses to the long-term development and security of Norfolk County.