Plenty of thirst for Ancaster well
More than 300 sign up to maintain access to artesian water
The Ancaster well on Sulphur Springs Road. – Richard Leitner/Metroland
The public still has plenty of thirst for a popular Ancaster artesian well following the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s installation of a new swipe-card entry system.
Chief administrative officer Lisa Burnside said 314 people had dropped by the authority’s main office on Mineral Springs Road as of noon on Jan. 15 to sign a waiver and pay a one-time $10 fee for a swipe card.
She said the site is inspected daily and there have been no problems or complaints from users.
“Everything appears to be working well,” Burnside said. “I can’t fully say that we had a real idea how many users there were, so I think we’re just going to wait and see as January plays out if perhaps this is a final number or not.”
I can’t fully say that we had a real idea how many users there were, so I think we’re just going to wait and see as January plays out if perhaps this is a final number or not.Amid vocal opposition from some users, the authority erected a 1.8-metre gated fence around the Sulphur Springs Road well’s two taps in late November in anticipation of the water exceeding a new arsenic limit of 10 parts per billion that took effect on Jan. 1.
Also higher in sodium, the water’s arsenic has typically ranged between 17 and 23 parts per billion — below the old maximum of 25.
Burnside said the city’s public health department inspected and approved the new setup on Jan. 2.
It includes a prominent sign warning, “Water is not for human consumption,” and a second sign providing details on the arsenic and sodium levels. The waiver people must sign offers a similar caution and advises the water is no longer tested.
A new ratepayers association pushing for unrestricted access to the well was unimpressed by the swipe card tally and suggested many people have either found alternative sources, stocked up on water or support its effort.
“Three hundred is really reflective of a small group in relation to the several thousand known to drink from this water source,” said Joel Moran, spokesperson for Protect Ancaster Wells. “Perhaps they felt they had no other recourse in this situation.”
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But Chris Krucker, who helped lead the fight to keep the well open, said he’s “quite happy” with the swipe-card system.
He said he’s been drinking the well’s water for two decades and continues to do so.
“I’m convinced that mineralized water is far better for humans than non- or less-mineralized water,” he said. “I’ve chosen that water.”
Krucker said a new group he and others formed, Valley Water Watchers, will keep working with the authority and politicians to protect the well from future closure threats.
“Now we realize of course that this could happen again, so I think there’s long-term work,” he said. “Communities and citizens need to engage around the issue of water, work with politicians in advance.”
Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, who pushed for the swipe-card solution, said the public’s response confirms the authority was right to not close the well and let those who sign the waivers choose whether to heed warnings to not drink the water.
“I think it’s been well-received by the community,” he said. “People can make an informed decision on their own, which is what they should be able to do. I mean, it’s their bodies, it’s what they want.”