Beach Preservers respond to Ministry on Request for Permit to Take Water

On January 28, 2022, a request for a permit to take water was sent to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) on behalf of the Cedar Crescent Village (CCV) proposed development at Port Elgin Main Beach, by Cobide Engineering.

According to the request for permit, the process calls for dewatering at the Port Elgin main beach that will allow removal of groundwater of up to 3.8 million litres a day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for up to three years, during construction.

“The water will be pumped onto the sand parking lot, into the lake, or into storm sewers,” says the group Port Elgin Beach Preservers.

Patricia Corrigan-Frank, spokesperson for the group says that in February 2021, seven assessment holes, called boreholes, were dug by hydrologists to assess the sand components, and make recommendations.  “Nine months later the site was moved 30m further from the water and closer to the homes along Harbour Street and yet no new boreholes were dug, making their assessments out of date and invalid and yet those assessments were used in their request to the Ministry.”

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The group ascertains that all homes and properties within 105 metres could be directly impacted by this dewatering process and that the public should have been informed that the request was submitted.

Before the March 6th response deadline for public input to the ‘request for permit’, the Beach Preservers sent in their extensive comments on March 5th citing discrepancies and inaccuracies in the request, including in particular, that the site location quoted in the documents was incorrect and, therefore, the hydrogeological assessment was no longer applicable.

In the request, it says that  “… It is very important to consider that all construction dewatering calculations provided in this report are based on the excavation requirements and dimensions listed above. If design changes or other site plan modifications result in changes to the information listed above, the dewatering calculations below will need to be revised accordingly.”  “The site plan and design have been changed,” says Corrigan-Frank, “therefore, all dewatering calculations have to be revised.”

In the standard request for permit, it states that “…the subject property is located adjacent to Lake Huron. The subject property does not lie within or adjacent to a wetland or other sensitive surface water feature …” to which the Beach Preservers response was, “Is Lake Huron not considered a sensitive water feature?”

According to an engineering report, dewatering (or removing water from an aquifer) may cause subsurface soil compaction and, consequently, sinking or settling of the ground above. This subsidence may damage buildings, roads, utilities, and other infrastructure and can increase flood risk in floodplain areas.  The Beach Preservers pointed out in the request for permit that the beach area for the development is often flooded and that the underlying springs throughout the beach make up the aquifer for Lake Huron.

In the end, the Beach Preservers maintain that the report/request is based solely on information collection in February, 2021 and that data collected was based on the site location that was subsequently changed in November, 2021 and that “… an entire investigation must be redone”.