Recent testing reveals high levels of arsenic in Greenwood well water

Nancy Kelly nkelly@kingscountynews.ca
Published on September 17, 2014

Tap water

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Some residents living in phase two of Greenwood’s Planesview subdivision are concerned about higher than acceptable levels of arsenic in their drinking water.

Village commissioner Richard Nickerson was one of the Robie Avenue homeowners to test his well water after hearing about elevated arsenic levels from his neighbours.

“It all started when a neighbour sold his house and the buyer had a water test done. It showed a high level of arsenic,” explained Nickerson. He said news of the arsenic in the water prompted others to have testing done. Nickerson encouraged them to contact the village office with their concerns.

Arsenic is a natural element found widely in the earth's crust. According to information obtained on the Nova Scotia Department of Environment website, short-term exposure, over days or weeks, to high levels of arsenic in
 drinking water can result in nausea, diarrhea, and muscle pain. Long-term exposure, over years or decades, may cause certain types of cancer.

In water, arsenic has no taste, smell, or colour. It can only be detected through a chemical test.

A meeting between six residents, village officials, Kings County Warden Diana Brothers and provincial Health Minister Leo Glavine, whose constituency includes Greenwood, was held Sept. 15 at the village office to discuss the contamination.

“We functioned as a facilitator to bring all the parties together,” said village commission chairman Brian Banks. He also noted the meeting was not publicly promoted but was attended more “by word of mouth.”

While there was no plan of action for remediation put in place at the meeting, Banks said the water contamination issue is now being investigated by the provincial departments of health and the environment. Kings County is also evaluating its next steps in potentially extending the Greenwood water system to the affected neighbourhood.

While arsenic cannot be removed from water through boiling, chlorination, or pitcher-style filtration units, there are water treatment options, including distillation and reverse osmosis, that can be applied.

“It was a good meeting, hopefully it will solve some problems,” said Nickerson, who, like his neighbours, wants to understand the corrective options that exist.

The village is recommending residents in Planesview II and Pineview subdivision have their well-water tested. Water tests can be arranged by contacting the Department of the Environment office in Kentville.