Well Interference Committee

The Well Interference Committee is a specially arranged—or ad hoc—committee that is brought together to address well interference complaints resulting from the City’s water taking.

The committee was established in 2004 to address concerns voiced during the City’s Class Environmental Assessment for the Arkell Springs Ground Water Supply Strategy. During the Environmental Assessment, private well owners expressed concern that City water taking may interfere with or reduce the amount of water available for their wells.

No complaints have gone to the Well Interference Committee since it was established.

Terms of Reference

Purpose

The purpose of a Well Interference Committee is to hear appeals on well interference complaints resulting from the City’s groundwater taking and, where appropriate, recommend restoration or additional restoration to residents for well interference where the City has been unsuccessful in resolving the complaint. An ancillary purpose is to provide opportunities for adjacent municipalities to consult with the City on well interference issues related to the City’s groundwater taking.

Membership

The Well Interference Committee will be composed of representatives from the City and the adjacent municipalities most likely to be affected by well interference complaints. Membership could include the following:

  • City of Guelph Council (3)
  • Township of Puslinch Council (1)
  • Township of Guelph/Eramosa Council (1)
  • Town of Milton Council (1)

Alternate members may be designated by the municipality when the Committee Member is unable to attend a Committee meeting. A minimum of five members of the Committee are required to convene a meeting.

Mandate

It is the City’s practice to resolve well interference complaints that are caused by the City’s groundwater taking. City Staff will implement its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Resolution of Well Interference Complaints (attached) in response to notification of a well interference complaint. (Note: Upon the implementation of the Well Interference Committee, the SOP will be revised to incorporate the role of the Committee and the opportunity for the well owners to appeal to the Committee for compensation.) Committee members will be notified by the City as soon as possible upon receipt of a well interference complaints.

According to the SOP, City staff will conduct an investigation of the complaint and, where the complaint is justified and the City is found to be responsible, will implement methods to resolve the well interference complaint and restore the affected water supply. Where the City conducts an investigation and the City is found not to be responsible for the well problem, the City will provide a letter report to the well owner summarizing the results of the investigation and why the complaint is not justified. The letter report will also inform the well owner of the role of the Well Interference Committee and the appeal procedure.

In some cases, a well owner may be dissatisfied with the resolution provided by the City or the compensation provided by the City. In these cases, the well owner could appeal to the Committee for additional compensation.

If the City receives written notification of an appeal of a well interference complaint, the City will provide a written response to the well owner providing the date, time and location for the next Committee meeting. The well owner will be invited to the meeting to present his/her appeal to the Committee.

Upon an appeal, the Committee will review available information provided by City staff on the well interference complaint. Information will include the following:

  • Location of the well owner with respect to the nearest municipal well(s)
  • Details of the complainant well including depth and water level in comparison to the municipal well details>
  • Details of municipal pumping in the area of the complaint
  • Monitoring of water levels in the area, if available
  • Details of the complaint
  • If appropriate, details of the resolution of the well complaint and measures taken to date

The Chair for the Committee for each meeting would be derived from the municipality in which the complaint originates.

At the meeting, the Committee would hear information from the well owner on the nature of the appeal and the justification for compensation. City staff will be available to the Committee to answer questions and provide any requested information.

The Committee would vote on awards for compensation on the merits of the case presented to the Committee. The Chair would not vote on a Committee decision unless required to break a tie. Decisions of the Committee are final.

Compensation

Compensation will be provided to well owners where the City’s groundwater taking prevents a well from providing an adequate water supply for the well owner. The preferred method to resolve well interference complaints is to connect the residence to the municipal water supply as this provides a long-term secure water source. Where a municipal water supply is not available, compensation would partially or fully cover the costs of a replacement water supply (i.e. lowering of the pump, deepening of the existing well or drilling of a new well as the case may require). Mitigative measures will attempt to ensure a permanent solution such that the potential for future well interference is minimized. Upgrades to the water supply beyond restoration of the existing system, if desired by the well owner, will be the responsibility of the well owner.

Compensation may also be awarded to cover the costs of a temporary water supply used during the repair of the well and if a new well is provided, to cover the cost of the abandonment of the old well. Wells not used or dry wells must be abandoned according to the Ontario Water Resources Act, Regulation 903 as amended. Compensation would not normally cover the future cost of operation and maintenance of the well and pumping system. The City may, at its discretion, undertake the necessary repairs to the well or have the well owner undertake the repairs and the City will provide reasonable compensation to the well owner. Any awards of compensation must be supported by receipts documenting costs associated with the restoration of the water supply system.

Meeting schedule

The Committee will schedule monthly meetings but will only convene a meeting in response to a complaint. Complaints must be received fourteen (14) days prior to a meeting date in order to convene a meeting for that date.

Legal support

The City Solicitor will provide support to the Committee in the initial stages to provide legal advice on liability issues associated with the Committee, the replacement of water supplies and the abandonment of wells. A full and final release of the City and affected municipality of any outstanding claims will be required upon any compensation being granted by the Committee. The signing of a waiver form by the well owner may be required prior to restoration of the well to ensure the well owner accepts future responsibility for the well.