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McIntosh Perry

McIntosh Perry’s solar farm groundwater monitoring earns praise

...the importance of monitoring the water quality from pre - to -post construction can’t be underestimated...

The geosciences team at McIntosh Perry is receiving accolades for its groundwater monitoring practices pertaining to solar farms.

Currently retained by four firms to undertake groundwater monitoring for 42 solar projects across Ontario, McIntosh Perry is quickly becoming recognized as a leader in hydrogeology.

Mark Priddle, P. Geo at McIntosh Perry, said although the work is mandated by the Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) that are issued by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE), the importance of monitoring the water quality from pre- to post-construction can’t be underestimated.

“During the development of such projects, there is a remote possibility that construction activities might negatively impact groundwater that is used for potable purposes at neighbouring properties,” Priddle stated.

Typically, McIntosh Perry is asked to prepare a groundwater monitoring plan prior to construction and both before or after being provided with an REA. From there, Priddle said his team reviews background geological information and determines where residences with wells are located around the site. Within this scope of work, McIntosh Perry also performs general consultations with the MOE about its expectations for each project. The professionals with McIntosh Perry then notify residents surrounding the projects and initiate communication about the voluntary water testing program.

“From the responses, our team visits residents to obtain background information on their wells and to do preliminary testing,” he said. The pre-construction monitoring allows McIntosh Perry to confirm the natural quality of the groundwater, giving a base finding to which further assessment can be compared.

During this initial testing, the team is generally looking for bacteria, nutrients, metals and turbidity of the water. When results are received from the lab, the team prepares letters which are sent to the homeowner, the MOE and the company co-ordinating construction of the solar farm.

Priddle said groundwater monitoring for solar farms can present several challenges that the team at McIntosh Perry has successfully overcome. He said there are wide variances in the type, age and location of existing wells which can make them difficult to discover and possibly impacted from nearby sources such as septics and manure. In addition, he said groundwater quality constantly changes naturally, which can provide an altered test result but can make it difficult to pinpoint a cause for the change in quality.

To that end, if complaints arise during construction, McIntosh Perry is also responsible for additional sampling and providing an assessment of origin of the change, if any. Priddle said this work involves interaction with the proponent of the solar farm, the MOE and the affected resident.

Fortunately, McIntosh Perry is being acknowledged for its responsiveness, efficiency, superior knowledge of hydrogeology in eastern Ontario, and especially the ability of its field staff to form positive relationships with the public. Not only has the firm been receiving good feedback from homeowners, but its client companies are praising the way McIntosh Perry deals with residential complaints regarding the groundwater.

Recently, solar project client, Cyrus Tingley, expressed his firm’s satisfaction with and appreciation of Priddle’s “prompt and comprehensive response to a well-water complaint received on a solar farm project currently under construction.”

He went on to say that the McIntosh Perry team, headed by Priddle, provides excellent customer service. “Mark has been proactive, available, and knowledgeable in assisting with our acquisition of additional data and interactions with the landowner who complained,” Tingley writes.

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