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Community Case - Carlisle Water FAQs

November 2004

Your Water and the Carlisle Quarry

As a resident of Carlisle, you may be aware of the potential for the establishment of a large scale, open pit mining operation less than three kilometers north of the Carlisle water tower. If established, this quarry could have direct and serious adverse effects on the water supply of the village of Carlisle.

How large is the proposed quarry?

Mr. David Lowndes, the quarry's proponent, said that he plans to extract 3,000,000 tonnes of aggregate per year from his site over the next twenty-five to thirty years. The proposed Carlisle Quarry would be immense in terms of its production-one of the eight largest quarries of any kind in Canada, and the seventh largest limestone quarry in the country1.

The quarry (would initially cover 238 acres on the 11th Concession, north of Carlisle2. There is also the intention to expand the quarry onto an additional 154 acres of land adjacent to the initial site at some time2.
*Note: Lowndes Holding Corp. - owned by David Lowndes - was purchased by St Marys Cement Group (CBM) on June 15, 2006.

How could the quarry affect Carlisle water?

Currently, two thirds of the households in Carlisle obtain their water from a municipal supply consisting of four communal wells, a pumping system and the water tower3. The remaining households draw water from private wells.

The four communal wells, and many of the private wells, tap an aquifer, or ground water source, in a geologic formation called the Amabel Dolostone formation3. All of Carlisle's water arises within the proposed Carlisle Quarry site or on a direct line of flow between that site and the communal wells3. If the quarry is approved, the Amabel Dolostone carrying Carlisle's water would be mined to a depth of 40 metres, or 130 feet.

Furthermore, the Carlisle Quarry would divert huge quantities of ground water from the aquifer supplying the Carlisle communal water system because the operation of a large, below the water table, quarry requires what is termed "de-watering". Water pours from the aquifer into the open pit, and must be pumped out or a lake will form, bringing mining activity to a halt.

Water flow into Carlisle

Click for larger image

How much water is at issue?

The maximum allowable pumping rate for the present Carlisle communal wells is 26.7 litres/second3, which equals just over 500,000 gallons/day. By contrast, a quarry of the size proposed for Carlisle may require the pumping of several million gallons of water per day out of the quarry. For example, Dufferin Aggregates estimates that its extension of the Milton Quarry will pump over 3,500,000 gallons of water per day from its operation4. As a resident of Carlisle, you are acutely aware that the village's water supply is already insufficient to meet peak period water demands. Watering restrictions have been imposed in Carlisle since the summer of 2001, with a ban implemented as recently as the summer of 2003. The Carlisle Quarry could remove seven times more water than the current maximum daily water demand by the residents of Carlisle.

What are the implications of pumping this volume of water?

Ground water supplies can be adversely affected for an area of 10 square miles5, (approximately 26 square kilometers) around a quarrying site. Indeed, the Carlisle Quarry proponent, in his application to the City of Hamilton for rezoning and Official Plan Amendment, stated that "Water resources will be affected by the proposed excavation and dewatering"2. He also admits that " dewatering has some potential to affect ground water flow" and that "the influence of dewatering is expected to increase with the area and depth of development"2. The Lowndes Holdings Corp. application proposes managing water resources "in the context of an Adaptive Management Plan"2. In other words, as a problem presents itself, a solution will be sought.

The solutions proposed for challenges presented by massive mining far below the water table, known as "mitigation measures", could require the use of engineering works which are untried on such a scale and/or in similar circumstances. In fact, such mitigation measures are currently being debated before the Joint Board, with respect to Dufferin Aggregates Milton Quarry expansion (a similar large-scale industrial operation below the water table) and at the pre-hearing stage of the Ontario Municipal Board with respect to the Rockfort Quarry proposal.

For more information on mitigation measures, please visit www.coalitioncaledon.com and www.niagaraescarpment.org.

How will this affect you as a resident of Carlisle?

Many residents expect that the quarry proponent and the City of Hamilton will be required to ensure that the residents of the village have a safe and adequate supply of water for drinking, cooking and other household needs. This is true - in theory. However, the reality could be less than acceptable.

The present average water use in Carlisle is 1600 litres (352 gallons) per household per day3. This is an average figure - larger homes with larger lawns and gardens, or with pools, can use much more. Peak use is considerably higher still. In the August 3, 2004 edition of the Hamilton Spectator, the quarry proponent, Mr. Lowndes, said that if water supply to the village were to be disrupted by his operation, he would supply bottled water and/or truck water into Carlisle.

Three hundred and fifty-two gallons of bottled water per household, per day, is of course ridiculous, so plastic cisterns on front lawns or driveways, accessed by a continuous parade of water trucks, would be the more likely solution. At the peak rate of consumption, this could require 63 semi-trailer water tanker trucks per day to enter the village and either fill cisterns or refill the tower. If the peak rate could not be met, then water use restrictions would be inevitable. These numbers speak only to the municipal supply. Private well owners might find that their wells require deepening, or could even run entirely dry, as has happened in other jurisdictions. The same is true of the wells serving Balaclava School, which is only one concession south of the Carlisle Quarry site, and cannot operate without a potable water supply. If all these wells are included, the problem could only be worse.

The City of Hamilton would have no easy solution. Without a reliable ground water supply to draw upon, a pipeline from Waterdown, a distance of 8.5 km, might be the most reasonable option3. It is likely that the City would be loath to spend this money without seeking recompense from the quarry owner, who in turn could demand legal proof that the damage to the already beleaguered supply was his responsibility. The likely scenario of wrangling over cause and effect, and arguing over who will pay, plus the intrinsic delays involved in planning and approval of a major engineering project, could take years - years of water restrictions, of tanker trucks, of bottled water and of cisterns! At the end of this time, the users, that is, the residents of Carlisle, could be expected to have to pay the municipal infrastructure costs associated with remediation of the water system.

What about the truck traffic?

The proponent has stated in his application that the expected 1000 truck trips per day will travel north to Highway 401, but he will have difficulty enforcing routes with independent truckers. Because haulers from Toronto will have no loyalties to the neighbourhood, it is highly probable that truck traffic through Carlisle will increase dramatically.

Furthermore, the volume of 1000 truck trips per day is likely understated. That number is consistent with the assumption that the trucks are all the maximum semi-trailer size which carry approximately 20 tonnes per load. The volume of truck trips becomes even more worrisome when viewed in conjunction with the province's Growth Management Plan. It outlines proposed developments in the Hamilton Niagara Regions which mean that if the quarry is approved, trucks will be traveling both north and south of the 11th concession.

School bus, bicycle, and pedestrian safety are other points of concern. The Milborough Line, Campbellville Road, Centre Road and Carlisle Road are all identified bus routes and are the same routes most likely to be used by haulers. These routes, which have no sidewalks, are also used by children who cycle to and from school, and by adults who cycle, run and walk for exercise.

How do we prevent this nightmare from becoming our reality?

The best way to avoid these problems is to ensure that the proposed Carlisle Quarry never becomes an actual quarry. Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment (FORCE) is a local citizens' group that has already made great strides in the fight against the Carlisle Quarry. FORCE is a legally incorporated, non-profit entity whose sole mandate is to prevent the establishment of this inappropriately sited industrial activity. Success in this struggle can be achieved through vigorous and dedicated community activism, in combination with professional legal and technical expertise. To find out more about how you and your family can help in this fight against the Carlisle Quarry, visit www.StopTheQuarry.ca or call FORCE at (905) 659-5417.

The people of Carlisle and the surrounding rural residents can stand together to stop this quarry. Be a part of that fight!

Together we will succeed!

  1. Aggregate and Road Building Magazine, 2003.
  2. Lowndes Holdings Corp. Proposed Dolostone Planning Report, 2004.
  3. Carlisle Water Supply Master Plan, Stantec Consulting, 2004.
  4. Final report from the Joint Agency Review Team (JART) studying the Dufferin Quarry expansion application. Town of Halton Hills/Dufferin Joint Planning Report, 2002.
  5. M.D. Van Oort, Geological Society of America Abstracts: 35:570, 2003.


Together We Will Succeed!