Keppel Quarry | Owen Sound, Ontario
When Harold Sutherland Construction began the application process to expand their quarry, MTE was retained to conduct hydrogeological investigations and as a result, our team was able to propose safe extraction recommendations that allowed for the operator to move forward with their expansion plans.
Located approximately 15 km northwest of Owen Sound, Keppel Quarry was removing bedrock of the Amabel Formation from below the water table. The quarry was approximately 20 ha in size and the operators were applying to expand it to an area of 80 ha. Our team supported the application by completing several hydrogeological examinations aimed at defining and assessing the potential impacts of the proposed expansion on the bedrock groundwater system.
While analyzing the quarry’s groundwater system, our team was challenged with characterizing the bedrock aquifer and quantifying how groundwater resources were being used. We found that the groundwater uses include:
- Groundwater contributions to significant wetlands;
- Creeks and streams;
- Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSIs);
- Groundwater seeps and springs;
- Significant natural heritage features such as the Niagara Escarpment; and
- Private well users.
Our Team then examined the potential for a connection between groundwater that flows through the bedrock formation under the site and the Provincially Significant Wetland, known as the Shouldice Wetland, located within 500 m of the site. If a strong water-bearing zone or fracture was identified, then there may be a risk that the quarry could create a groundwater “sink” through the cone of influence that would extend under the Shouldice Wetland and potentially remove water from the wetland. This in turn could affect the wetlands ability to provide a habitat for vegetation and wildlife.
We also investigated possible impacts to private wells that would result from dewatering the quarry. Many private water wells in the vicinity of the site were using groundwater as a source of drinking water and if a connection existed through a bedrock fracture between the site and the affected private well, dewatering the quarry could remove water from the private wells.
Following our analyses, our team was able to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the groundwater system and provide recommendations for the extraction that would allow the proposed quarry to proceed without any negative impacts to natural heritage features or existing groundwater uses. After our team along with others at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) provided expert witness testimony, Harold Sutherland Construction was awarded a license to move forward with their expansion.