Woodstock CAO outlines efforts to salvage Grafton well

by | Jul 5, 2024

Council approved $16,000 for a study to determine contamination source, development of wellfield protection, and search for other water sources

Woodstock council approved further efforts to salvage the $4.5 million Grafton well site and potentially determine a different secondary water source for the town.

During the June 25 regular council meeting, CAO Allan Walker updated the council on the town’s efforts surrounding the contaminated water source in Grafton. He requested and gained council approval to pay Gemtec, a consulting engineer and scientific firm already working with the town on water source projects, $16,000 as the first part of a three-phase study.  

Walker explained that town consultant Boissonault McGraw recommended the town work directly with Gemtec. He said the study’s first phase will attempt to determine the source and pathway of the chloride present in the water at the Grafton site.  

“We’re trying to determine where it’s coming from, how it’s getting there, and also the cost and feasibility to mediate that,” Walker explained.

He explained the first phase would take approximately seven weeks.

Walker also sought approval from the council to engage Gemtec to study and possibly develop a wellfield protection plan should the Grafton well site be usable as a Woodstock water source.  

He said the scope and cost of future phases will depend on the outcome of phase one.

Mayor Trina Jones said determining the cause of the Grafton well contamination is “super critical” in determining a solution if one is available.

“We really want to exhaust all avenues to see if we can salvage this well,” she said.

Jones explained the three-part proposal before council at the June 25 meeting begins with approval of the $16,000 expenditure. She also asked the council to permit town staff to ask Gemtec to develop the wellfield protection plan and begin studies surrounding a potential water source at an identified site in the Eastwood Heights area.

“Yes, that means spending a bit more money, but we have $4.5 million in it and it can’t be used at the moment, so we’ve got to exhaust all options,” Jones told the council. “I think we’ve been very careful and cautious taking one approach at a time, and they’ve been very fair and reasonable so far, as what they’ve given us for cost.”

Council unanimously approved the CAO’s request.

“I feel it’s important to move on with this, considering the amount we’ve invested so far, to see what steps are needed to salvage those costs,” said Coun. Norm Brown.

The CAO report updated the council on the latest steps of a 10-year effort to secure a dependable Woodstock water source and available backup source.

The town’s efforts regarding Woodstock water supply are ongoing on several fronts. Currently, Boissonault McGraw and Gemtec are drilling test wells to secure the town’s only active water supply from River Wells # 1 and 2 on the island in the St. John River in lower Woodstock.

The firms are drilling Well # 3 to provide backup, using the same water source as the current wells.

The search for a backup water source began in 2014 after an ice jam blocked access to the well and knocked out electricity to the well house. If they prove functional, the new wells on the island would connect to the current wells and pass through the existing water treatment.

In recent years, the town has taken additional steps to protect the River Wells, including constructing a rock wall and installing a generator set nine feet above the surface to prevent floods and ice jams.

FOREST FIRE INDEX – click image for current status

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