The Ontario government’s proposal to impose a two-year moratorium on new or expanded water takings from groundwater by bottling companies is good news for Ontario, and for Centre Wellington. If passed, the moratorium will provide much needed time for research and consultation.
The moratorium means there is no possibility of a pump test at the Middlebrook well until January 2019.
The moratorium is what we asked for, and it’s a reprieve, but this story isn’t over.
In the Ministry’s announcement: “This would allow time for the Ministry to undertake a comprehensive look at our current understanding of Ontario’s groundwater resources and the rules that govern water bottling facilities that use groundwater. This will help enhance water security in Ontario, by ensuring the wise use and management of groundwater in the face of climate change and population growth.” Read more
The Middlebrook site is located across the road from the Elora Gorge Park, a Grand River campground and attraction known for its limestone cliffs and river views. Communities potentially affected by this water taking include Elora, Salem, and Fergus.
Formed in April 2015, Save Our Water is a growing movement of area residents committed to the protection and preservation of the Grand River watershed. We are working closely with Wellington Water Watchers to safeguard the groundwater that our communities, our wetlands, and our river ecosystems rely on.
As the group’s Twitter hashtag ‘What’s the rush?” alludes to, provincially mandated research on the Township’s water supplies, the Water Source Master Plan and a Tier Three Assessment of groundwater resources for water-stressed communities like Centre Wellington, have not yet been undertaken. Save Our Water believes that this crucial research should be completed before the Ministry considers granting more water-taking permit for the purposes of commercial bottling in the Grand River Watershed. This will ensure that groundwater resources remain sustainable for future residents and that the right of the public to clean, sustainable water supplies come before those of private corporations. Read more
Summary of Recommendations and Issues in the Briefing Document, “Issues Related to the Middlebrook Well Permit To Take Water“
by: Athol Gow
Recommended Actions in the Document:
- The Ministry of the Environment should hold off on a decision on the new Permit To Take Water (PTTW) application for the Middlebrook well until both a Tier 3 Water Quantity Risk Assessment (WQRA) and a municipal Water Supply Management Plan for the Township of Centre Wellington have been completed.
- The water‐taking permit applicant (Nestlé) should be required to conduct a carefully documented well‐pumping test that should include private wells and continuous recording of water level data at all wells. The water level data collection should start two weeks in advance of the pump test and continue after it is over to better gauge the impact on local wells of removing water from the Middlebrook site.
- A thorough environmental study should be conducted to demonstrate that water‐taking from the Middlebrook well will not have an impact on plants, wildlife or nearby aquatic ecosystems.
- A requirement that, if a PTTW for the Middlebrook well is granted to the applicant, a provision be added that places restrictions on water taking during droughts.
- A full assessment of the Middlebrook site for potential well and aquifer contamination issues
Summary of Issues:
May 21 2015
For Immediate Release
Elora, Ontario: A small southern Ontario town has become ground zero in Canada’s battle for the right to safe clean drinking water. Local residents express outrage at news that Big Water giant Nestle is looking to export packaged water from the local watershed.
Nestle’s planned expansion into the community would see 1.6 million litres of water pumped each day from the local watershed. By comparison, this small community of 27,000 residents, uses 1.7 million litres of water from 9 well sites to meet the needs of every home, school and place of business. Big Water companies pay fees less than $4 per One Million Litres, while home owners pay over $4 per One Thousand Litres of water services. Read more