Arnott seeks assurance of groundwater protection

Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott is asking the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change for assurances the quality and quantity of groundwater in Centre Wellington will be protected.

Responding to Nestlé Waters Canada’s evaluation of the purchase of property in Centre Wellington, with a plan to apply for a permit to take water, Arnott raised the issue with minister Glen Murray in question period on Oct. 7.

“Nestlé Waters, a water-bottling company, says it’s considering the purchase of a property in the Township of Centre Wellington, with a plan to draw large quantities of water as a backup to its existing wells near Aberfoyle and Hillsburgh,” said Arnott.

“The township council and local residents have expressed interest and concern, and township representatives and I met with the minister last week to discuss the relevant issues.

“Will the Minister assure my constituents that any permit to take water applications by Nestlé Waters will be subject to a thorough scientific, hydrogeological review, with an open process for public comment by interested residents, taking into account the planned population growth in Centre Wellington because of the government’s Places to Grow policy, recognizing the water needs of agriculture, and guaranteeing the protection and preservation of the quality and quantity of groundwater in our communities for present and future generations?” he asked.

Afterwards, Arnott said, “The township is responding to this issue in the appropriate way. And, to the best of my knowledge, Nestlé Waters has been a good corporate citizen in our communities.

“But we all have an interest in our groundwater. Our groundwater belongs to everybody, and we have a responsibility to protect it for today and for future generations.”

Arnott noted that in western Canada, provinces own the water, which allows them to manage and control and price water, unlike Ontario and the eastern provinces, where the water is held and lent by people on the land, which means protecting municipal water supplies is more complex here.

Murray responded, “We share, I know, with the honourable member some serious concerns, particularly in Aberfoyle, where we have 27 monitored wells. When water tables have dropped, when the water levels have dropped, we’ve actually had to shut some of them down.

“So we’re being particularly mindful about the Nestlé situation.”

Murray also said, “We have been meeting, and we met together with the honourable member and municipal leaders, and I think we’ve crafted a reasonable plan going forward  …

“We want to protect jobs in the community, but not at the expense of our environment, and in this case, with the honourable member’s leadership and the co-operation and support of, I also want to recognize, the member for Guelph, I think we’re going to do this and get an economic win and an environmental win, which I think is the desire of the honourable member.”