Groundwater needs to be protected, says MPP Arnott

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2016

(Wellington-Halton Hills) – Our groundwater is essential to the future of our communities and must be protected, says Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott.

“We can’t take our groundwater for granted,” Mr. Arnott said. “We need to ensure that the proper safeguards are in place to guarantee that the quality and quantity of our water is protected in our time, and preserved for future generations.”

The issue has gained prominence lately with the news that Nestlé Waters, a water bottling company, is seeking the renewal of its permit to take water in Aberfoyle. The company also operates a well in the Town of Erin. Nestlé recently purchased the Middlebrook property in Centre Wellington. They are planning to seek a permit to take water for that site as well.

No water taking permits should be approved or extended unless hydrogeological studies demonstrate that area groundwater resources will not be depleted, Mr. Arnott maintains.

The Ontario Government charges large volume water users just $3.71 for each million litres of water they extract.

“Clearly, a fee of $3.71 for each million litres of water, for water bottling plants, appears to be too low,” Mr. Arnott stated.

However, Mr. Arnott cautioned that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal Government will likely see this as an opportunity for a cash grab.

“Time and time again, the Liberal Government has proven they can’t be trusted. They continue to raise taxes and fees to pay for their out-of-control spending,” Mr. Arnott argued.

The veteran MPP says municipalities must be included.

“If the Government is planning to raise the water taking fee, a substantial portion of any increase should go to the municipalities directly affected. Our local municipalities have to deal with the extensive reporting requirements associated with these permits, as well as all the trucks on our local roads,” he added.

Mr. Arnott acknowledged the work of the University of Guelph-based G360 Centre for Applied Groundwater Research, in doing groundwater research in Wellington County. The Centre is working with local municipalities, to further develop groundwater-sourced water protection and monitoring initiatives.

“We need to continue to take a science-based approach to groundwater protection,” he said.

Mr. Arnott has been closely monitoring Nestlé’s water taking applications in Wellington-Halton Hills, and working with local municipal leaders.

Last October, he raised the issue in the Ontario Legislature with the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change during Question Period, asking for his assurance that any permit to take water application will be subject to a thorough scientific review and that the quality and quantity of groundwater will be protected.

He also tabled a written Order Paper Question to the Minister, asking him to outline the process the Ministry uses to consider applications for permits to take water and what measures are in place to ensure the long-term protection of the groundwater.

“I hope to raise these concerns in the Legislature when it resumes sitting next month,” Mr. Arnott concluded.

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Ted Arnott, MPP

Phone: 519-787-5247

Email: ted.arnottco@pc.ola.org