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Council of Canadians exposes Inverness plans to sell water to Petroworth for drilling

Inverness County in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia plans to sell municipally treated drinking water to oil and gas company Petroworth Resources for exploratory drilling near Lake Ainslie, according to information obtained by the Inverness chapter of the Council of Canadians through an access to information request.

“This is simply outrageous. There has been no consultation with the public and municipal council did not debate or approve this,” says Thom Oommen of the Inverness chapter of the Council of Canadians. “We are calling for the municipality to pass a resolution denying Petroworth access to municipal water.”

An official with the municipality has confirmed that the water would likely come from the villages of Inverness and Mabou in the amounts of 30 to 40 thousand gallons per day.  The water will have to be transported to the site by tanker truck. Depending on the size of the tanker used (the average milk truck holds 4 to 5 thousand gallons) residents can expect a considerable increase in the volume of truck traffic on their roads.  

Petroworth has made public its interest in hydro-fracking in the area despite a municipal ban and claims that "High powered fracstimulation will make onshore Eastern Canada the new frontier for oil & gas exploration." [1] 

“Water is a human right and public resource. We oppose the sale of public water to Petroworth,” says Council of Canadians national water campaigner Meera Karunananthan. “We are particularly concerned about the use of this water to allow for drilling in West Lake Ainslie which threatens the ecology of Lake Ainslie – the largest freshwater lake in Nova Scotia.”

Anne Lévesque, an activist with the Council of Canadians, says that “Inverness County Council should have fully debated the issue and asked for public input before allowing its drinking water to be sold for industrial use and transported by tanker truck on our roads.”

Chapter activists are concerned because Petroworth has not ruled out using the controversial extraction practice of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The Council of Canadians opposes fracking because of its high carbon emissions, its high water use, and the pollution dangers it poses to groundwater and local drinking water.

The Inverness County decision to sell its drinking water to Petroworth appears to have been made over a year ago, before County Council approved a resolution – on Feb. 14th 2011 – calling for a ban on fracking in Nova Scotia.

[1] http://www.petroworth.com/presentations/Presentation.pdf