by JOE CALLAHAN
Residents in an eastern Ontario community have brought a halt to a quarry operator’s plans to take up to 1.3 million litres of water per day from its quarry.
The Citizens Against Melrose Quarry applied to the province’s Environmental Review Tribunal and has been successful in seeking permission to appeal the Ministry of the Environment’s approval of a “Permit to Take Water” that it had granted C. H. Demill Holdings Inc. at Long’s Quarry located in Tyendinaga Township, east of Belleville.
In a media release dated October 28, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, which is representing the citizens’ group, states that the tribunal has granted the residents “permission to appeal the issuance of a water-taking permit” issued to the quarry operator. The tribunal’s decision to allow the appeal means that the decision to grant the permit is “stayed” until the appeal is heard. This means that C. H. Demill Holdings Inc. no longer is permitted to take more than 50,000 litres of water per day.
Quarry Manager Charlie Demill says that while he can continue to operate while taking up to 50,000 litres of water per day from the quarry, continuing to operate the quarry at capacity is in jeopardy, depending on the volume of rainfall the region receives.
“Something the tribunal doesn’t seem to understand is that we only pump rainwater,” says Demill. “The amount of water that seeps into our quarry is so miniscule that we can’t measure it.”
Susan Munroe, spokesperson for the citizens’ group, says that initially the people represented in the organization were only concerned about a proposed expansion of the quarry operation, as reported last November in Better Farming, but now she has grown more concerned about the impact of water taking from the current quarry operation and its potential harm to residents’ wells and local dairy operations.
“I’m concerned about permits to take water from the quarry given the past history,” says Munro. “The MOE did not take into the picture the water taking by the local farmers and we know that dairy farmers are high end users of water.
According to the environmental law association’s release, the next step is for the citizens’ group to file its notice of appeal within 15 days. BF