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NEWS: Moncton to debate the selling of its water for fracking

The City of Moncton has been selling its drinking water to Apache Canada, a US-owned mining company, for its hydraulic fracturing testing in the Frederick Brook formation in the Elgin area in southern New Brunswick.

The CBC reported on October 25 that, “The Council of Canadians is calling on Moncton city councillors to revisit its policy that is allowing bulk water sales to an oil drilling company that is using a controversial mining technique. Brent Patterson, a spokesperson for the citizens organization, said Moncton council should have fully debated the issue and asked for public input before allowing six to eight tanker truck loads of water to be sold every day from the Turtle Creek Reservoir.”

The Times & Transcript reports this week that, “Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc wasn’t aware that the city was selling water in bulk from its reservoir to users outside the municipal water system. (And) some council members only recently learned (that) some water sold by the city is to be used for a controversial natural gas exploration process in the Elgin area (by Apache Canada). Coun. Paul Pellerin learned of this and raised the issue through the city’s sustainable environment committee…”

“The (sustainable environment) committee has tasked city staff with looking into the issue and reporting back to the committee, which is expected to make a recommendation to council. The environment committee is scheduled to meet (today). Pellerin says if committee members come up with a recommendation regarding the sale of water, it will be taken to council as soon as possible (in the coming weeks). …Pellerin says he is concerned that the water is being used for a controversial exploration process and that the city could be selling its water too cheaply.”

“Mayor LeBlanc says he appreciates Pellerin’s and the environment committee’s work on this issue, adding that this issue provides a good opportunity to step back and look at the issue of the city selling its water in the first place. But at first glance, the mayor isn’t sure selling water is a bad thing.”

“Paul Thomson, the city’s director of corporate communications, says the committee will look at several issues, including quantity of water being sold; what cost it should be sold at; best practices of other municipalities selling water; and whether water sales should be restricted to certain uses, if there is any ethical concern over a potential use. …Thomson says the city didn’t realize the purpose the water was being sold for; it simply knew it was being sold to a transportation company (R&G Transport). He noted that it raised some flags because the volume of water being sold was unusually large.”

The Times & Transcript news report is at http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/rss/article/1289158. The CBC news report is at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/10/25/nb-moncton-water-fracking-council-canadians-211.html. A campaign blog on Moncton selling its drinking water for fracking is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5077.

Photo courtesy of Susan Jardine, Greater Moncton chapter contact.