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NEWS: Moncton selling its drinking water for fracking

I’ve just completed a ten-minute interview with CBC Radio in southern New Brunswick. The City of Moncton is now 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. As many as six to eight trucks a day are filled with water from the Turtle Creek reservoir and then sent 50 kilometres down Route 905 to a ‘lake’ that has been created to store the water for these operations.

This raises serious concerns and questions.

-This is the first city that we have heard of that is selling its public drinking water for fracking.

-Selling water at any price to be destroyed is bad public policy. Apache is buying the water from Moncton at $1.58 a cubic metre. Sussex is closer to Elgin but is selling its water at $4.48 a cubic metre. The debate should not be about whether Moncton should be charging more, as some have suggested.

-The fracking process adds sand and a chemical brew to the water. That toxic mix endangers ground water and also pollutes water that then needs to be disposed of somehow. Moncton should be thinking about the environmental impact in the Elgin area.

-Trucking water is unsustainable. Six to eight trucks a day creates alot of carbon emissions. The roads being used – Route 905 and Green Road – were not made to handle this kind of traffic.

-This water is being sold for exploration tests, but if shale gas is found even more water will be needed for ongoing fracking operations.

-Sackville recently voted to deny a mining company the rights to conduct seismic testing on town-owned land in the Sackville basin due to concerns about fracking. We would ask Moncton to look to Sackville as an example.

-Fracking is becoming a concern in every province across Canada. Apache is also active in British Columbia’s Horn River basin and in western Alberta as well. It is proceeding at a fast pace despite widespread concerns about water useage, carbon-dioxide emissions, and the impacts on wildlife.

-Some provincial governments are actively supporting fracking, while the Harper government has been almost silent on this. Environment minister Jim Prentice recently stated federal regulations are still a work in progress.

-There are sustainable green energy alternatives to uncoventional shale gas. Water is finite and should not be destroyed.

-How much water is being sold? How much more water is needed by Apache? What is the cumulative impact of these water sales?

-How is Apache disposing of the water after they use it?

-Has there been a full debate among Moncton city council on this? It has been reported that one city councillor did not know these water sales were happening.

-Has the contract between Moncton and Apache been made public? What does it stipulate?

-What do the people of Moncton think about this? Have there been any public consultation on this issue? It is very clear that right across the country there is alot of concern about fracking.

-Where is the province on this? The Shawn Graham government said there is little or no health or environmental risk associated with fracking. We would hope the David Alward government doesn’t share this view.

-These water sales should be stopped until there is a fuller debate with public consultation.

-The contract between Moncton and Apache should be released for public scrutiny and debate.