Deadline April 21!!! Township wants public feedback on Growth Management Report Last spring the Township engaged Stantec Consulting Ltd. to prepare a plan that will set the path for Centre Wellington’s development well into the future. On April 4, they posted Stantec’s report on the Township website, and on April 10 issued their press release. Township wants your comments on three options and approaches of how growth and density can be allocated! If you would like to provide input into the Options & Approaches Report, please send an email to: GMS@centrewellington.ca. All comments must be submitted by April 21, 2017. Centre Wellington Township Press Release on Growth Management Strategy Centre Wellington Township Growth Management Strategy Page on Website Text of the Growth Management Strategy Report, March 2017 Continue reading
Make your support count! Send you comment to the Electronic Registry for the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights on "A regulation establishing a moratorium on the issuance of new or increasing permits to take water for water bottling." You can read it here, comment on it here. You can read below for more information and for links to our website if you want more advice on what to write or to find out more. You can also send a comment that says you support the submissions of SaveOurWater.CA. All submissions are being read and not only those of a technical nature. Continue reading
Fishermen Saddened by Drought, 2016 Halloween Day 2016, fishermen are saddened by the extreme drought on most rivers and streams in Southern Ontario. At this time of the year, the Rainbow Trout traditionally leave the Great Lakes and rush up the rivers as the water flows off the land to replenish the Great Lakes. It is called the “false spawning run”. This year there are only a few inches of water in the downstream. At the mouth of the Bighead River in Meaford, the fish are stalled and they cluster in the only deep pool up from the mouth because of the low water conditions. Bob Giza of Ontario Streams measures the low water depth in the Bighead River at Meaford. A few miles south on the shoreline at the mouth of the Indian Brook, Bob observes low water conditions. He shares the concerns of local steelhead fishermen who state that these are the worst conditions in 50 years. This is a great concern for our fish populations and water supplies. Save
MAKE US STRONGER. MAKE US MORE POWERFUL. LET'S DEFEND OUR WATERS TOGETHER! Mayor Linton and Councillors, A lot has happened over the last couple of months. In May, Garry Hunter of Hunter and Associates submitted a report on Nestle’s proposal for Middlebrook to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. The report was prepared in the context of the Township’s new population growth forecasts. Centre Wellington’s population is now targeted to double by 2041. The report concludes that these new population figures present an enormous challenge to the Township’s drinking-water supply and infrastructure. We need new water sources. Commercial water-taking at Middlebrook would directly interfere and compete with the expansion of water supplies for the municipality. On August 30 the Township’s Infrastructure manager Colin Baker and the Township’s hydrogeologist Ray Blackport responded to the Hunter report, and the response concurs with Hunter’s conclusions. In Ray Blackport’s words: -“ With increased growth planned in Centre Wellington, as a result of the Places to Grow Act, there are additional pressures on the management of water, including increased water demand, both earlier than planned and a long-term increase in water taking in the future.” - “Taking of large quantities of water from the Middlebrook well would restrict the ability of the Township to secure an additional source of water within close proximity to the municipally serviced area of Elora, as well as remove this water from the aquifer system thereby reducing overall available water in the Elora-Fergus area.” - “The reality is the ‘easy’ water has been found (in other words, the water closest to the municipality and easiest to obtain without constraints). Finding new sources of groundwater will only become more difficult.” The plan for the Township now is that a Tier 3 risk assessment is going to be carried out on municipal drinking water supplies. Save Our Water has been in favour of a Tier 3. In fact it’s something we asked for. But this is not going to be a ‘standard’ Tier 3; it is called a ‘scoped’ Tier 3, which, according to Martin Keller of the GRCA who will be overseeing the project, means that there are future scenarios that this Tier 3 will not be able to assess because not all of the needed data is available. According to Martin Keller, “The scoped Tier 3 process will not be able to complete the full evaluation of resiliency to planned growth, since the Township of Centre Wellington has not completed their Long Term Water Supply Master Plan...The scoped Tier 3 will follow the process for a Tier 3 under the Clean Water Act, but with the exception of the planned growth piece.” But it is this planned growth assessment that is absolutely critical here. Without the first required analysis of the township’s future water needs and supply, how will this Tier 3 assessment make any sense? Why did the province decide to put the cart before the horse here? Is a decision about the large-scale water extraction at Middlebrook going to be made under this scenario? We hope not. Over the past forty-eight hours we have heard in the national media about Nestle’s concern for any impacts from their water-taking on the local ecosystem. We would like our Council to be aware that, as of November 10, this company removed from their pump test design all assessments for potential negative impacts from their water-taking on the watershed and surrounding ecosystem, including provincially significant wetlands, cold-water and warm-water streams and the Grand River. Under the current pump test application as it now stands, potential impacts on the ecosystem will not be evaluated. But, the science aside, none of the above explains why the eyes of the nation are watching the Township of Centre Wellington. We have become a ground zero for challenging the water-taking status quo. In the eyes of the nation and the world groundwater is a finite element in need of careful stewardship and protection. On the heels of unprecedented public and media attention to the issue of consumptive water taking, on August 30 Kathleen Wynne stated that times have changed and the conditions of these permits are now outdated. She pointed out that this wholesale removal of water from Ontario’s aquifers was not a reality that was anticipated when the Permit to Take Water process was originally developed. The Ministry is currently in a process of communicating with stakeholders and reviewing and considering changes to the Permit to Take Water regulations. The decision about Middlebrook will be made by the province, but the stance of the Township, as a key stakeholder in this process, carries considerable weight. The residents of the Township have been waiting a long time to hear the mayor and Councillors’ position on this issue. It is clear that the community is overwhelmingly engaged in its opposition to the water-taking permit application, and in its support of robust water management for the long term sustainability of our community, which means welcoming 25,000 more people into our urban area, strong economic development, a strong agricultural sector, a healthy ecosystem, private well owners not having to worry about their water supply, and a world-class tourism sector that celebrates water. With the Township’s recent counter-offer to purchase the Middlebrook property, council made a very clear statement: it is important to guarantee that commercial water taking from the Middlebrook site will not impact the Township’s water supply. It is time now to follow up on this statement. Please send a message to the Ontario government. Councillors and mayor, will you vote on a resolution? Save Save
The following is from the Puslinch Pioneer. NESTLE WATER-RENEWAL OF PERMIT TO TAKE WATER “Harden Environmental Services have reported that groundwater discharge to Aberfoyle Creek is diminished as a result of the present rate of water extraction by Nestle Waters. Increased water taking will further decrease groundwater discharge to Aberfoyle Creek. Annual pumping has increased from 588 million liters (2011) to 762 million litres (2015) per year. There is potential for degradation of the water quality. The water taking by Nestle Waters Canada has resulted in the depressurization of the Gasport Aquifer beneath the hamlet of Aberfoyle. Individual wells may become conduits for contaminants origination at the ground surface, septic systems or buried tanks.” Centre Wellington does not want to have similar conditions like the chance of decreased water quality, depressurization of the aquifer, or negative effects on our creeks, streams, the river or private and municipal wells!
This first week after Labour Day has seen an uptick in interest in our local water matters. People are realizing, not just in Centre Wellington and Aberfoyle that long term water taking has consequences not only for those around the wells but on the environment too. One of the early understandings we reached as a group and what helped form the opposition to these permits was that it was not just a not in my backyard problem. These water takings are part of a global pattern of water mining involving Big Water, Big Money, Big Government and Big Issues. What is happening here in Wellington with the Nestle Triangle of Aberfoyle, Hillsburgh and Elora is yet another example of what is happening in Hope, BC, Fryeburg MA, Cascade Locks OR, California, Arizona, and on and on. Small rural and city communities are targeted where there is weak legislation and planning challenges where water sources can be exploited by opportunistic companies. Nestle and other bottling companies (Nestle is not the only one: Coke, Pepsi, Danone etc) are using their buying power and expertise all over Canada, North America, indeed the world to collect aquifers and areas where access to water can be found. It is business. However water is a substance like air where humanity and the creatures of the earth cannot survive without it. That places a particular value that cannot be assigned a commodity like minerals, foodstuffs, manufactured goods. We can talk about the cost differences paid by these companies versus residences accessing water services but what is key is that the indignation about these differences needs to draw attention to the fact that water is not a renewable resource. Groundwater recharge is agonizingly slow. Practically speaking in terms of a human lifetime when it is gone it is gone. The price differences attract peoples attention and anger but the real question is how do you value a water source and its contents in a way that takes into account that people and communities cannot live without it. Cannot grow without it. Water is the basic sustainer of life in its most basic forms and for that reason, money cannot be the sole decider of its value. Below are letters to the editor this week in the Wellington advertiser. If you check our social media feeds you will see some of the water issues that were covered by water allies this week. We will be continuing the discussion in Waterblogged in the days, weeks and months to come. http://www.wellingtonadvertiser.com/index.cfm?page=letters Continue reading
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. – 30 – Ted Arnott, MPP Phone: 519-787-5247 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Centre Wellington, we seem to have no shortage of water. Just take a look around. The Grand River flows abundantly, especially in the spring. Belwood Lake and the Elora Quarry provide great swimming holes when summer gets too hot. Fields are green, not parched. I’ve even heard that some housing developments have first had to drain the land before the houses could be built. All this could reasonably lead us to believe, wrongly, that in Centre Wellington, we have water to spare. This is a mistaken belief shared by many Canadians. The lakes and rivers of our country are a matter of national pride and identity. They seem plentiful, and this makes us complacent—to our own potential detriment. Here’s what Dustin Garrick, Philomathia Chair of Water Policy at McMaster University, has to say about this: The Royal Bank of Canada’s water attitudes survey has been running for eight years; it started measuring perceptions of extreme flooding and drought. In the 2015 results … the vast majority of Canadians do not believe they live in areas vulnerable to floods (72 per cent) or droughts (81 per cent) …. Our ‘water risk’ literacy appears to be low, a striking contrast with the world’s thought leaders surveyed by the World Economic Forum each year for a “global risks report.” Water crises have been among the top five risks in this global survey for the past five years. In 2015, water crises reached the highest impact risk for the first time. It’s time for us to wake up to water risks in an era of climate change. (What the California Drought Means to Canadians.) Here in Centre Wellington, we need to wake up now. A 2009 report considers Centre Wellington a potential water-stressed area due to “drought and future scenarios.” And the GRCA, in the same year, noted that “If future municipal demands increase to 8% and 10% of total watershed budget Township’s water supply availability will be at risk.” Our rivers and our swimming holes are beautiful. But let’s not let them fool us into thinking we’ve got water to give away. Save Save
Blue ribbons are popping up around trees, posts, pillars, and on doors and balconies around the Township of Centre Wellington North of Guelph in Southwest Ontario. That blue ribbon shows support for Saveourwater.ca who are opposing a permit to take water by Nestle Waters Canada from a local well. They are asking the Ontario government not to grant the permit and to put a moratorium on commercial watertaking for bottling from the watershed. Nestle has a water bottling operation in Aberfoyle which is South of Guelph. At that site, they have a permit to take 3.6 million litres a day. They have a permit to take 1.1 million litres a day in Hillsburgh too. The Centre Wellington site pending permit is for 1.6 million litres a day. That is a maximum daily take of 6.3 million litres per day that would fill 12.6 million plastic bottles per day for sale under one of the 52 brands Nestle bottles water. Local residents are concerned about that much water leaving the Grand River watershed as the area is projected to double in population under the Places to Grow legislation. The amount asked for in the permit is equal to the daily use of the Village of Elora presently. The Grand is also a river that is vulnerable to drought and low water levels. Take a look at the Globe and Mail article of December 20, 2015 by Roy McGregor. The river disappeared altogether for 80 of its 280 kilometers in 1936. The issue of who controls water is crucial. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change provide the gateway for water use and grant the permits in Ontario. Ontario’s Clean Water Act of 2006 gives this as the definition of a drinking water threat, “An activity that takes water from an aquifer or a surface water body without returning the water taken to the same aquifer or surface water body.” Under this definition, Nestle is a drinking water threat. That is why blue ribbons are showing up around the township. Water is a finite and precious resource we cannot afford to have shipped away from the aquifer. Contact your provincial and local politicians and tell them to say NO to Nestle! Register your Blue Ribbon Here!