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Council of Canadians backing Water Wells First

Members of Water Wells First know they have Canada’s leading social action organization in their corner as the grassroots group continues its fight with a wind farm developer.

Maude Barlow, honourary chairperson of the Council of Canadians, spoke to a group of more than 60 people attending a Water Wells First meeting on Sunday at the Country View Golf Course about the water well issues that have arisen since construction began on the North Kent Wind farm project.

“It’s an appalling situation, one that we promise at the Council of Canadians to work with you on really, really hard in reversing what’s happening here,” Barlow said.

Water Wells First will be in court on Thursday to oppose a motion by North Kent Wind to prevent them from blocking access to any of its turbine construction sites.

Spokesperson Kevin Jakubec said, “we expect a fight (and) we’re determined to give them a fight.”

“They picked the wrong group of people to mess with,” he added.

Jakubec said on Friday, he was made aware of the 13th water well in the North Kent Wind project area to be impacted by pile driving for the construction of a wind turbine.

Water Wells First points to the connection between when pile driving begins and nearby wells that soon begin to have a large amount of sediments appear, making the water unsafe to drink or use. It blames the vibrations from the pile driving for stirring up the Kettle Point black shale bedrock formation in the area, which is known to contain dangerous heavy metals including arsenic, uranium and lead.

The North Kent Wind project is being developed by Samsung and Pattern Energy.

Barlow said the Council of Canadians isn’t against the concept of wind, solar and other ways to move away from a dependence on fossil fuels. She added when done properly, wind power is an important solution.

“When a company like Samsung comes in and is given the right to do what they’ve done here and disturb the watershed and the aquifer and destroy the local water, they do the issue of wind, really, a great deal of harm,” Barlow said.

She noted this isn’t an unusual situation in Canada, generally.

In her view, Barlow said, “we typically have what I call, the myth of abundance. We have taken our water for granted. We believe we have so much.

She said it was recently widely believed, and even stated on the Environment Canada website up until about three years ago, that Canada had 20 per cent of the world’s water.

She added it was pointed out if that were true, every river and lake would have to be completely drained.

“We have about 6.5 per cent of the world’s available fresh water,” Barlow said. “That’s the water you can use without destroying the source.”

She said Canada has done a poor job of taking care of its water, citing the fact there are no national drinking water standards.

While the water that comes out of the taps of municipal water systems is clean, Barlow said, “we continue to have a travesty in First Nation communities in this country, where 90 per cent of First Nations are more likely to not have clean drinking water and not to have running water.”

She believes there needs to be a new water ethic.

“Instead of taking water for granted, we have say, ‘Every policy that we adopt, every practice, everything we do has to ask the question: What’s the impact on water?’

“And, if the impact on water is not good, you stop. You go back to the drawing boards,” she said.

Barlow is also worried about this competition she sees between wind and air.

“We’re being told to put up with the destruction to your wells because wind is better than fossil fuels,” she said. “Wind done properly is better than fossil fuels, (but) anything that hurts water is not the answer.”