Wind Farm Developer Investigating Water Well Concerns

Advocates for Water Wells First attend Otter Creek Wind Farm public meeting at Baldoon Golf and Country Club. Calvin Simmons (left) and Bernard Simmons (right). July 19, 2016. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Officials behind the proposed Otter Creek Wind Farm are assuring members of the public that they’re taking concerns about well water very seriously.

Project Manager Mark Weatherill says they’ve spoken to members of the citizen group Water Wells First, but haven’t seen any hard evidence that would prove the wind turbines are threatening local drinking water.

He says just to be sure, Otter Creek officials are also working with a third-party consulting firm to investigate the claims.

“To try and help us understand on the basis of facts, science, and known engineering principles whether or not what Water Wells First is claiming is actually possible,” says Weatherill.

He says Otter Creek officials have also asked Water Wells First members for scientific evidence or studies proving wind turbines in the area are affecting area drinking water, but so far, those requests have come up empty.

“Unfortunately, they haven’t shared any of that with us,” says Weatherill. “So, we’re undertaking these studies ourselves to get to the bottom of this as much as possible.”

It’s not clear yet whether the company will make the results of those studies public, but they are planning to include the report in their Renewable Energy Approval (REA) application.

Depending on the outcome of the studies, Weatherill says the company will consider taking action, but wouldn’t commit to putting a stop to the project altogether.

“I think if we were to see a clear demonstration that we are going to affect any aspect of people’s lives in the project area we would look at that and identify ways we can mitigate those effects,” says Weatherill. “The intention of course is to continue on with the project.”

As for receiving a “Shame Award” from Water Wells First members, Weatherill isn’t too impressed by that gesture.

“We believe the award is misguided, we don’t think we have anything to be ashamed of for what we’re doing,” he says. “By all means it’s their right… but it’s not something we believe is warranted.”

-With files from Natalia Vega

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