A History of Concerns with the Middlebrook Water-taking Permit
In 2002 when the owners of the Middlebrook site applied to the Ministry of Environment for a water-taking permit, there was an enormous amount of public concern.
The residents needed answers: where is the water coming from to replace the extracted water? what wells are connected to that aquifer? Would there be water shortages along the aquifer? who would be responsible for investigating these water shortages? Is the aquifer confined or unconfined? How long will it take for the water to be replenished? At the single public meeting, held by the water company as per MOE requirements, the one person representing the company, a hydrologist, could answer none of these questions. The residents were dismayed and angered.
We did not know that in the same early spring of 2002, the Township of Centre Wellington Groundwater Management and Protection Study was almost complete. Most of the reports had been filed. The township had spent several years completing this detailed water resources study, generously funded by the MOE and carried out by Blackport Hydrogeology Inc. in Waterloo. The study was finally published in August 2002, five months after the permit deadline. The company applying to take water did not ask to see this water study, nor was their hydrologist even aware that it existed. The Study contained a lot of relevant information. Why, when reviewing the water-taking application for renewal, the Ministry of the Environment did not make use of this water study draft, which, in fact, it had funded, was a mystery to all involved.
Residents of Centre Wellington provided 114 comments and a petition with 130 signatures. Comments were of a technical and environmental nature, including:
- Unknown long term effect of the proposed taking on neighbouring wells, wetlands, tributaries to the Grand River and to the water resources in the area.
- Request for monitoring of well water levels, ground and surface water quality and surface water levels and baseflows
The 2002 permit was granted to the Middlebrook Water Co. for only two years, and for only 240,000 litres per day. In 2005, the company, now 1445036 Ont. Inc., applied for a permit to expand their taking to 1.6 million litres per day. Residents did not know the company had applied for this permit. Only 1 comment was filed. Permit to take 1.6 million litres per day was approved. And then renewed in 2010. This permit expired in October, 2015.