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WIN! Moncton stops selling its drinking water for fracking

The City of Moncton has been selling its drinking water for $1.58 a cubic metre to Apache Canada, a US-owned mining company, for their hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) testing in the Frederick Brook formation in the Elgin area in southern New Brunswick. As many as six to eight trucks a day were being filled with water and then driven 50 kilometres down Route 905 to a ‘lake’ that had been created to store the water for these operations.

Today we received word that Moncton has stopped these sales!

On October 25, we expressed our opposition to these water sales on CBC Radio in New Brunswick. The CBC reported, “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 news report on this is at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/10/25/nb-moncton-water-fracking-council-canadians-211.html, our campaign blog is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5077.

On October 30, Susan Jardine and another Moncton chapter activist handed out 300 brochures on fracking and this situation at the city’s farmers market.

On November 2, l’Acadie-Nouvelle reported that: « Ce n’est pas une bonne politique pour la Ville de Moncton », déplore Angela Giles, l’organisatrice régionale en Atlantique pour le Conseil des Canadiens. Mme Giles note que le transport par camion d’une aussi grande quantité d’eau émet d’importantes quantités de gaz à effet de serre et que cette eau devrait être reserve à la consommation des citoyens de la ville. Le Conseil des Canadiens juge également que l’eau municipale ne devrait pas être destinée à des fins qui pourraient avoir une incidence sur l’environnement puisque l’exploration du gaz de schiste demeure controversée. «Nous avons des inquiétudes relativement à la fracturation hydraulique (utilisée pour l’exploration et l’exploitation du gaz de schiste). De plus, s’ils (Apache) trouvent du gaz, il se pourrait que beaucoup plus d’eau soit.

On November 12, we sent an open letter to the mayor and all members of city council calling on them to stop selling water for fracking and asking for a fuller public debate on these issues. That letter can be read at http://canadians.org/water/documents/fracking/letter-Moncton-fracking-1110.pdf.

And on November 15, Atlantic organizer Angela Giles contacted all members of city council to ask them to stop selling the city’s drinking water for fracking and to not allow for fracking within the Turtle Creek watershed. The next day the Canadian Press reported that, “City council in Moncton wants the New Brunswick government to protect the city’s drinking water by not allowing a controversial method of extracting natural gas. The city is worried about the potential impact on its regional water source. Council has passed a resolution (unanimously!) requesting that no exemptions for oil and gas exploration or drilling in or around the Turtle Creek watershed be granted by the province.” More on that at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5348.

A Times & Transcript newspaper article after that vote quoted Paul Wilson, manager of the drinking water source protection section of the provincial Department of Environment, stating, “Our position right now is that there’s no oil and gas exploration allowed under our regulations.”

We are still keeping an eye on this. As reported by the Times & Transcript, Moncton city council is expected to debate “restrictions on what city water can be used for and geographical restrictions on where any water sold can be used. City council can expect to have those recommendations and possibly more pertaining to the sale and use of Moncton’s water early in the new year.”

That said, a recent Corridor Resources media release stated that, “During the quarter, Apache Canada Ltd. (“Apache”) completed the drilling and casing of the first two horizontal wells in the Frederick Brook shale play located north of Elgin, New Brunswick. Apache has advised Corridor that the hydraulic fracture stimulation program for the Green Road L-41 well and the Will DeMille M-59 well has commenced and frac operations are estimated to be completed by the end of November, 2010. Corridor expects testing results will be available in early 2011.”

Our thanks to Councillor Paul Pellerin, other city councillors who opposed these water sales, and everyone who voiced their opposition to the selling of drinking water to be destroyed in fracking operations.

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