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Residents fear Lake Uist project could harm wells  

LOCH LOMOND – Area residents concerned about how a proposed wind/hydro energy development may affect the quality and quantity of water in their private wells say they’re planning to hire a lawyer to try to ensure their interests are protected.

The community held a meeting Saturday to discuss the Cape Breton Explorations Ltd. proposal. About 70 people attended, many of whom are seasonal residents of the area and knew little about the project, organizer Joan Farrar said Monday.

The company’s plan would feed wind-generated power from 44 wind turbines located near Lake Uist directly into the electrical power grid during the day when demand is high. At night, the wind turbines would supply power to pump water from Lake Uist through a buried penstock to a reservoir three kilometres away and more than 100 metres higher.

The pumped water would later flow back down the penstock to drive turbines producing more electricity before dispersing into the lower lake from where it originated.

“They want to hire a lawyer to make sure that whatever it is that is going to happen, it does not affect our water,” said resident Farrar. “If you start playing around with our water, whether it’s up there in the hills of the wetlands or in the lakes, our water systems all come out of there … If in fact something happens to our water, all our property here is useless.”

At the meeting, Laurie Suitor of the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources outlined some concerns about potential impacts associated with the proposed project.

The residents are circulating a petition as well as a letter of concern it intends to forward to Environment and Labour Minister Mark Parent.

A group calling itself the Save the Grand River Watershed Committee has also formed.

Farrar said this is not a case of local residents crying, “not in my backyard.” She said initially there was excitement about the proposal and its potential to create jobs and provide greener power.

“It sounded amazing … but when you go through it, it’s not so perfect, we really have concerns about it really screwing up our water system,” she said.

It may be a relatively small community, Farrar said, but she noted residents have chosen to live in the region for its beauty and the pristine nature of the water system.

The residents are also planning to have their water tested to provide some baseline data from before any work on the project is done.

Last month, Cape Breton Explorations’ chief financial officer Luciano Lisi said environmental assessments are expected to be comprehensive and address public concerns. He couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

He said the project will undergo extensive environmental testing bringing it to EcoLogo standards – North America’s most widely recognized and respected certification of environmental leadership. The project will also be subject to a class 2 environmental assessment under the province’s Environmental Act, with federal requirements to be determined.

He also said a community meeting will be held around October when the company expects to submit its environmental assessment report to the province.

Nancy King

The Cape Breton Post

15 July 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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