Nestlé to do work on controversial well in Elora this week

Maintenance work at the Middlebrook well in Elora, owned by Nestlé Waters Canada, may mean water will be seen flowing from the property.
This week, Nestlé Waters Canada will be doing maintenance work on the Middlebrook well. The well is located on the site of the former Middlebrook Water Company in Elora. (Google StreetView)

Workers will be on site at the Middlebrook well in Elora this week to do maintenance work on the wellhead, Nestlé Waters Canada says.

Nestlé purchased the property, formerly the Middlebrooke Water Bottling Co., in 2016.

The well became the subject of controversy after it was learned the Township of Centre Wellington also attempted to buy the property to have access to the well. The township had wanted the well for future use as the area is seeing growth. Nestle did not know the township was the other bidder on the property.

Andreaanne Simard, a hydrologist and a water resource manager for Nestlé Waters Canada, said the work needs to be done, and they wanted to alert the community to it before people see them on the site.

"The Middlebrook wellhead has aged quite a bit over the years, and so we simply want to reconstruct the wellhead to ensure that it's safe," she said in an interview.

She noted the province, township and Grand River Conservation Authority all know the work will be happening, likely sometime this week depending on the weather. It will take about a day to complete.

Water will need to be released

The well is unique, she said, because it's an artesian well, which means groundwater is constantly flowing to the surface. In this case, it's at a high rate, as much as 500 gallons per minute, she said.

"The well pressure is being contained by the current infrastructure there, but if something happens to that infrastructure, as I mentioned, it's aged, it could cause flooding," Simard said.

The work will mean they'll need to release some water to decrease the pressure on the wellhead, which is made up of pipes above the ground.

"We will need to discharge some water to the nearby ditch, which would probably be discharging for about one hour at most," she said.

Anyone with questions about the work are welcome to stop and speak to the crew on site or contact the company.

Nestlé Waters Canada has been waiting to perform a pump test on the Middlebrook well but can't do so while the province has a moratorium on new or expanding existing water taking permits for bottled water companies.

The province is currently mulling over expanding the moratorium to 2020.