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WIN! Edmundston passes resolution to protect their drinking water from the Energy East pipeline

The City of Edmundston, New Brunswick has passed a resolution expressing concern about the Energy East pipeline and the impact it could have on the city’s source of drinking water. The resolution states, “The City of Edmundston continues to protect the integrity of its current drinking water source and thus must oppose all routes of the pipeline crossing the Iroquois River basin as a whole, including the part situated in Quebec.”

CBC reports, “The city of Edmundston says it’s against the proposed routing of the Energy East pipeline and will ask the National Energy Board to divert the project away from its municipal water source. City council has voted unanimously to adopt that position… Mayor Cyrille Simard says the pipeline route passes through the watershed for the Iroquois River, which the city relies on for two thirds of its water supply. The city also uses that water to supply the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation within its municipal boundaries. …[Mayor Simard says,] ‘Since we draw more or less two-thirds of the water that we use … from this river, it creates an impact that is unacceptable.'”

In August 2014, the Council of Canadians released the report Energy East: Where Oil Meets Water that highlighted that the Energy East pipeline would cross and endanger 961 waterways – including 300 waterways in New Brunswick – that are important for drinking water, First Nations cultures and treaty rights, fish and wildlife habitat and tourism.

That report highlighted, “The Madawaska River runs from Lac Témiscouata and the National Park of Lac Témiscouata in Quebec, and joins the St. John River at Edmundston, New Brunswick. While Energy East crosses the Madawaska River in Quebec, it is about 20 kilometres away from Edmundston (16,000 residents) where it cuts through the centre of the community. The pipeline also flows through Saint-Jacques (1,500 residents) before reaching Edmundston. A spill in this area threatens to have a dramatic impact on these communities. …The residents of Edmundston rely on wells that lie downstream from the proposed Energy East pipeline route.”

Then in November 2014, the Council of Canadians held a town hall meeting in Edmundston which highlighted the impact the pipeline would have both on the area’s waterways and on the climate. That town hall meeting featured Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, Bold Nebraska activist Ben Gotschall, and Fundy Baykeeper Matt Abbott.

During that visit, Barlow met with Mayor Simard and raised concerns about water protection. After that meeting, Barlow tweeted, “Just had meeting with terrific Mayor Simard on Energy East.”

The CBC now notes, “[Mayor] Simard said he hopes the board will order TransCanada to route the pipeline around the watershed, which he estimates would mean an extra 60 kilometres of pipeline. …TransCanada spokesperson Tim Duboyce … pointed out TransCanada has already changed the route “significantly” once before to avoid coming close to Edmundston.”

But as we have noted in a campaign blog, “The proposed pipeline route is about 20 kilometres north of the city and just 16 kilometres from their watershed area. The original route proposed by TransCanada was even closer to the watershed and near residential neighbourhoods. Mayor Simard … said he would not support the pipeline unless TransCanada could assure him the local water supply would be protected.”

This past January, Council of Canadians Energy East New Brunswick campaigner Mark D’Arcy wrote that the city’s draft resolution had been leaked to the public. He highlighted, “The document proposes that the Council ask TransCanada to fund the ‘identification of a new water supply’ and ‘the construction of a water treatment facility for the community’.  This treatment system would be for the alternative supply of drinking water to residents in case there is a tar sands bitumen spill in the Iroquois River Watershed, the sole drinking water supply for both Edmundston and Madawaska Maliseet First Nation.”

In a subsequent blog posted earlier this week, D’Arcy quotes Claudia Julien who was present for the vote. Julien says, “When the resolution was read, the hall was full and it was immediate, the entire room went into a very loud, and long applause. By our actions we convinced the city to take notice, and convinced them to speak out and do their duty to protect our water, and the citizens.”

The Council of Canadians congratulates local residents and allies on the success of this resolution to protect their drinking water from the Energy East pipeline.

To read the City of Edmundston resolution, please click here.