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Letter: The impact of the KED on Ramsey Lake can’t be ignored

‘These scientific facts have been ignored by council and staff in their determination to proceed with the KED regardless of the environmental threat to one of our main sources of drinking water’
031121_linda-derkacz frosty morning fog crop reader Linda Derkacz snapped this image of a foggy morning on Ramsey Lake.

Is safe drinking water important to you?  A stupid question, you say. Is it a question that is being ignored by our city council? They seem willing to put aside the findings of the provincially paid for Ramsey Lake Subwatershed Study that stated Ramsey Lake could be harmed by the location of the KED, positioned as the property is on a valuable recharge area for the lake, the source of drinking water for up to 50,000 citizens, including me, and also Health Sciences North, and a number of institutional and private seniors’ residences.

The study, which includes a detailed map of the KED site showing the area affected, states that “the proposed Kingsway development, including a new arena, hotel and casino, is planned to cover a portion of the SGRA (Significant Groundwater Recharge Area) zone”, and; “a significant change in runoff and recharge is predicted to occur”, and; that the ecological impact will be more severe if road salt is contained in the runoff. 

Salt and its components, sodium and chloride, which do impact both terrestrial and aquatic life, are already at elevated levels in Ramsey Lake.

KED advocates have said that stormwater ponds planned for the development will mitigate the effects of runoff. However, city drainage engineer Paul Javor has testified that salt will not be contained by these ponds, cannot be removed by any practical method, will enter the watershed and eventually the lake. 

These scientific facts have been ignored by council and staff in their determination to proceed with the KED regardless of the environmental threat to one of our main sources of drinking water.

I live in an area (just off York Street) where my water contains salt that I can detect, and I acquire my drinking water from Lake Wanapitei at a public source tap on Bancroft Drive near Moonlight Drive, which has much less salt (4.4mg/L sodium) compared to water out of my home tap that contains 47.5 mg/L sodium.

This level is more than two times the limit that can affect people on salt-restricted diets, and is at the limit at which the health unit must inform health professionals of the risk to their patients. The city says these levels have stabilized, but how much will they increase if the KED development takes place and salt from the roadways and large parking areas enters the lake?

It Is well-known there is no economical substitute for salt to keep these areas safe. Also, chloride at (90 mg/L) is approaching levels harmful to aquatic life, which could affect the recreational value of the lake. These levels have been verified by independent laboratory analysis. 

It should be noted the present arena is not in the Ramsey Lake watershed, and presents no threat to the lake. Plus, the environmental cost to upgrade Sudbury Arena compared to building new on The Kingsway is far less, an important consideration as the city has committed to reducing CO2 emissions under the Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP).

For the sake of protecting one of our main water drinking sources and acting environmentally responsibly, the KED development needs to be carefully evaluated. If you, as our elected representatives, believe that safe drinking water is truly important for our present and future citizens and take the environment seriously, prove it by considering the threat of the KED to our drinking water supply and act accordingly. 

John Gaul