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LETTER: Council raises questions about Aquablue in Smiths Falls

On June 25, Smiths Falls EMC columnist Ryland Coyne wrote that, “The Council of Canadians and the Polaris Institute both took shots prior to last Thursday’s opening, critical of the company before any formal details of its plans were even revealed. It’s likely this lack of civility and loud-mouth negativism resulted in them being left off the guest list for the ceremony.”

Mr. Coyne was referring to our concerns about Aquablue International opening a bottled water plant in Smiths Falls, a small town just outside of Ottawa. Because we had raised critical questions, we were denied access to a press conference about the plant.

On July 2, the Smiths Falls EMC published our response to Mr. Coyne’s column which states, “With all due respect to Mr. Coyne, the Council of Canadians has simply been raising key questions about the impact that Aquablue International will have on the people and environment of Smiths Falls. We believe that the answers that are emerging are worrisome.”

“It turns out Aquablue International will take advantage of a new water treatment plant that is opening in Smiths Falls next month. The federal and provincial governments have contributed $17.1 million to the plant, while the taxpayers of Smiths Falls have put $8 million into the $25 million project. Ninety per cent of the water that Aquablue sells will come from this municipal water system and 10 per cent will be spring water from Hawkesbury, Ontario. Aquablue president Dan Villeneuve has said no permit will be needed to export bottled water from Smiths Falls and no environmental impact assessment has been made public. Aquablue downplays the significance of its plans to take 340.5 million litres of water a year by claiming that the water-bottling operation will use less water than the Hershey candy plant, which took 417.68 million litres per year. The critical distinction here though is that much of the water Aquablue uses will be exported to the United States and the Middle East.”

Our letter concludes, “We believe we have raised legitimate questions and that public debate is a crucial aspect of local democracy.”

To read our letter to the editor please go to http://www.emcsmithsfalls.ca/20090702/editorials/Column+sparks+quick+response. Mr. Coyne’s column can be found at http://www.emcsmithsfalls.ca/20090625/Lifestyle/Positive+at+last.

Our media release ‘Council of Canadians denied access to Aquablue press conference’  can be read at http://canadians.org/media/water/2009/18-June-09.html.

The June 3 Ottawa Citizen article in which Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow raises concerns about the Aquablue bottled water plant, can be read at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Smiths+Falls+attracts+water+company/1656215/story.html.