A Central Frontenac Township resident and property owner has been convicted of four violations under the Ontario Water Resources Act, according to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).
From around May 4, 2021, to about July 28, 2022, Robert Hawley violated the Ontario Water Resources Act by way of insufficient construction and maintenance of a well — a well which provided his tenants with tap water that was later found to be unfit for human consumption, according to information from the provincial government. Hawley was convicted of the following offences on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, at a court in Kingston:
- Failing to maintain a well in a manner sufficient to prevent the entry of surface water and other foreign materials;
- Failing to comply with a ministry order by failing to provide written confirmation that work was completed by a licensed well technician;
- Failing to dose the water in a well to the proper free chlorine concentration; and
- Failing to provide the ministry with a copy of a well record within 30 days of the completion of the well’s structural stage.
According to MECP, the ministry received a complaint about the water well located on Hawley’s residential property in Mountain Grove, Central Frontenac Township, on April 21, 2021. The complaint came from Hawley’s tenants, who resided in a single-family dwelling on the property. The tenants “had concerns about the water quality from the household taps that were connected to the well,” MECP detailed.
In response, MECP staff attended the property to conduct an inspection of the well.
“Various compliance issues were noted, including a damaged and cracked well cover and vegetation and twigs floating in the well,” the ministry stated.
In addition, ministry staff collected a raw water sample from an outdoor faucet at the house for analysis.
“Lab results later revealed that the well water sample was adverse and unsafe for human consumption,” according to MECP.
Following this, staff members with the ministry spoke with Hawley, who disclosed that he had dug the well “10-12 years previously and had used the internet to guide him.” Hawley never completed or submitted a requisite well record to the ministry, MECP said, so he was instructed to hire a licensed well contractor prior to conducting any new improvements to the well.
A little under a month later, on June 2, 2021, MECP sent a notice to Hawley instructing him to complete “several action items,” including the retention of a licensed well contractor’s services “prior to engaging in any action items listed on the notice.”
Nearly two months later, on July 27, 2021, ministry staff once again attended Hawley’s property. The MECP representatives “observed that the well had been altered” since the previous inspection.
“This was confirmed by Mr. Hawley, who advised that he had conducted the alterations himself,” the ministry said in a court bulletin following Hawley’s conviction.
“A number of other compliance issues were noted.”
Hawley was subsequently issued a Provincial Officer Order requiring he complete several work orders by the compliance deadline. Hawley failed to complete the work items by the deadline, and the ministry’s Environmental Investigations and Enforcement Branch investigated and laid the charges that resulted in his convictions.
As a result of his four convictions under the Ontario Water Resources Act, Hawley was fined $5,000 plus a $1,250 victim fine surcharge, and given 120 days to pay. Additionally, as part of sentencing, a Section 112 Order was issued to Hawley, requiring that he comply with the items set out in the 2021 Provincial Officer Order. Details on the Ontario Water Resources Act and orders under Section 112 are available on the Government of Ontario website.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Robert Hawley operated Tay Hawk Industries Inc., a now-defunct resort on a large, secluded rural plot of land south of Bass Lake, which is accessed at the end of Dawson Road in Mountain Grove. The website for that business remains active.