Minister: your inaction is threatening our water

Open Letter: Permit to Take Water for Guelph Dolime Quarry/River Valley Development QuarryOctober 24, 2013
ENV1283MC-2013-2200
 
Dear Hon. Minister Bradley
 
I appreciate your letter of August 26, 2013 in response to our concerns regarding the Ministry of Environment’s granting of an amended Permit to Take Water (PTTW) to River Valley Developments for its Guelph Dolime Quarry site.
 
I strongly disagree with your dismissal of my concerns regarding the amended Permit to Take Water. 
 
There is a strong case for why the MOE should reverse its decision on the matter of granting the PTTW. 
 
I share the City of Guelph’s concern that any increase in the historical average pumping rate of between 5,000 and 7,000 m3/day of groundwater from the quarry presents a risk to the quantity of water available to Guelph residents. The City has adapted its operations to accommodate the historical average pumping rate. Guelph’s ability to supply residents with drinking water will be compromised if River Valley Developments increases its pumping rate above the historical average rate. 
 
In October of 2011, the City of Guelph presented your Ministry with compelling evidence that city wells are currently operating at the limit of available drawdown. As a result, any increase in pumping rates by the quarry will reduce the City’s water supply capacity.
 
The increase in the quarry’s water taking could cause significant harm to Guelph’s drinking water. Yet it is my understanding that no monitoring or assessment is required until the average daily water taking exceeds 10,000 m3/day. This rate is significantly above the historical average rate of 5,000 to 7,000 m3/day and does not account for the threat to Guelph’s water supply. The City requested that an acceptable management plan be in place before the MOE granted the amended PTTW. Unfortunately, your Ministry ignored this reasonable request. This is not acceptable.
 
Minister, I believe you have a solemn duty to protect our drinking water. On many occasions since 2003, the City of Guelph has raised concerns with the MOE and the Ministry of Natural Resources about the threat to Guelph’s drinking water from operations at the Dolime Quarry. Your inaction on this issue only increases the threat to Guelph’s water.
 
Since receipt of your letter, I have collected an additional 500 signatures on the petition to protect Guelph’s water. It is the same petition I first shared with you on July 16, 2013. Over 2,000 people have now signed our petition. 
 
As a reminder, the attached signatures specifically demand:
 
I call on the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to support the City of Guelph’s request for a limit at the current historic average pumping rate; a comprehensive long-term management plan for the quarry that protects Guelph’s water; an effective monitoring program; and financial assurances and legally enforceable requirements to ensure the quarry owner — rather than Guelph ratepayers — pays for long-term mitigation costs related to the quarry’s operation. 
 
Although I am encouraged that discussions between the MOE, MNR, City of Guelph and River Valley Developments are ongoing, I remain deeply concerned that Guelph’s water is currently not satisfactorily protected. The four demands from the City should have been in place before the MOE granted the amended PTTW.
 
Minister, it is essential that you take action to protect Guelph’s water. Thousands of Guelph residents share my concern. I’m happy to discuss this in detail with you at your convenience. 
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Mike Schreiner
 
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To sign the petition, visit www.gpo.ca/protect-guelph-water