A developer has been granted permission to create a 16-acre, 30-foot-deep lake as part of a planned housing project in South Sound.
Infrastructure and excavation work is under way on the Adagio community – a 23-lot lakeside subdivision.
The Water Authority approved a quarry permit for the lake earlier this month, despite objections from the Protect South Sound environmental group.
The permit allows the developer, Rene Hislop, to excavate below a depth of 20 feet, something that protesters say creates a risk of groundwater contamination. They say the decision is also contrary to the recommendations of the Department of Environment and the Water Authority itself, when plans for the Adagio proposal first came before the Central Planning Authority.
“We consider the decision of the Water Authority to be very irresponsible given the potential risks which this project entails,” said Katrina Jurn of Protect South Sound.
The protest group did not object to a depth of 20 feet. When the Central Planning Authority initially approved the housing project in 2012, the Department of Environment warned that excavated depths greater than 14 feet risked creating water quality issues, including frequent fish kills, objectionable odors and algal blooms. The Water Authority said anything deeper than 20 feet risked contamination of the water from nearby waste disposal wells.
Hendrik van Genderen of the Water Authority said it granted the permit after approving a mitigation plan proposed by the developer to deal with those concerns. He said excavation to 30 feet would be outside the 1,000 feet radius of existing effluent disposal wells, and any new wells associated with the housing project would be at a depth of 60 feet or below.
Protect South Sound has also raised concerns about the blasting required to create the lake, and the potential impact on neighboring homes.
Stephen Hislop, one of the developers, said all blasting on site was strictly monitored and in accordance with guidelines set down by the National Roads Authority.
He said the lake management plan had considered water quality concerns and adopted numerous measures to comply with Water Authority guidelines.
Excavation of the lake has already begun, though the developer says the project is still several years from completion.
“The project will eventually be a mix of residential offerings – exactly what will depend on market demand closer to that time. We are at the initial stages of site infrastructure works, excavating the approved lake and filling the property,” Mr. Hislop said.