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PEI chapter against proposed bottled water plant in Brookvale

Council of Canadians vice-chair and PEI chapter activist Leo Broderick.

The Council of Canadians Prince Edward Island chapter opposes plans for a bottled water plant in Brookvale, PEI.

CBC reports, “A water bottling company, Pure Island Waters Ltd., has plans to set up a water bottling plant in Brookvale, P.E.I. …The company states it hopes to start by producing 84,000 litres per week, which it says is the equivalent amount of water used by 10 households. …At full capacity, the plant would use 100 cubic metres — or 100,000 litres — of water per day according to the company, at a water draw rate of 15 gallons per minute. The company wants to build three new wells in the area for the plant — one for bottling water, another as a backup and the third for the geothermal heating system.”

The article adds, “The company suggests this level of water extraction is well below levels that require a groundwater extraction permit. The province agrees.” Both the province’s manager of groundwater and the provincial Department of Environment have stated that an environmental assessment is not needed.

The PEI chapter is also opposed to the provincial government’s approval of a new well in Rollo Bay that would be used by AquaBounty for a plant where 13,000 conventional salmon would be raised to provide eggs to be transferred to a Bay Fortune plant where those eggs would be genetically modified. AquaBounty was given a permit to extract up to 1,375 imperial gallons per minute.

In June, the CBC reported, “The Council of Canadians has written to the Department of Environment to register its objection. Spokesman Leo Broderick says the group is concerned about the amount of water that will be extracted, about effluent going into the stream and about the transport of eggs between facilities.”

And the PEI chapter has called on their provincial government to continue with the moratorium on deep well irrigation and to legislate a complete ban on all deep well irrigation in the province. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow visited PEI in February 2014 to speak against deep water wells.

Broderick has warned, “Already, there are close to 100 active high capacity deep water wells in the province – 36 of them on Island farms. We need to reduce that number, not increase it. We need to protect our groundwater which is already under a great deal of stress from nitrates, pesticides, and climate change. …Our ground water is not an infinite resource and we will suffer from long-term ground water depletion. Eventually our water table will respond causing serious environmental damage and affecting individual and municipal water supplies. The government should begin to transform PEI agriculture into a sustainable food production system putting small-scale farms at the center of the transformation.”

The PEI chapter is very active in the campaign for water justice. In April, they launched an initiative to get blue communities resolutions passed in Charlottetown, Summerside, Stratford, Montague and several other communities. In October 2015, Broderick presented to the PEI Environmental Advisory Committee on the province’s proposed Water Act, which could be introduced in the legislature this fall. In February 2014, the chapter helped form the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, alongside the PEI Watershed Alliance, the Sierra Club, District 1, and Region 1 of the National Farmer’s Union. And in December 2013, Broderick wrote the provincial ministers of energy and the environment calling on them to support a ban on fracking in the province.

Barlow has highlighted, “PEI is dependent on its groundwater. It has not been properly mapped, there is no proper conservation or long-term water program. It’s just a kind of everybody dips their straws in and let’s hope it’s OK, and it’s not good enough. If that’s wrong and that groundwater isn’t there or it’s being contaminated, future generations of Islanders are not going to have the water, nor are the farmers.”