PEI

Pure Island Waters looks to open water bottling plant in Brookvale

A water bottling company, Pure Island Waters Ltd., has plans to set up a water bottling plant in Brookvale, P.E.I.

Green Party leader asking province to put project on hold

Pure Island Waters Ltd. has proposed opening a water bottling plant in P.E.I.

A water bottling company, Pure Island Waters Ltd., has plans to set up a water bottling plant in Brookvale, P.E.I.

"Visitors to the Island, almost without exception comment on the quality of our water," the company states in an application for an environmental assessment.

"It is clear that Prince Edward Island, 'cradled in the waves,' offers itself well as an excellent source for establishing a small water bottling operation."

Up to 100,000 litres of water per day

The company states it hopes to start by producing 84,000 litres per week, which it says is the equivalent amount of water used by 10 households.

Once the plant reaches full capacity, within four years of beginning operation, the company states that amount would increase to the equivalent of 47 households.

The proposed bottling plant would be near the Brookvale Provincial Ski Park. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

At full capacity, the plant would use 100 cubic metres — or 100,000 litres — of water per day according to the company, at a water draw rate of 15 gallons per minute.

The company wants to build three new wells in the area for the plant — one for bottling water, another as a backup and the third for the geothermal heating system.

Environmental assessment not needed

The company suggests this level of water extraction is well below levels that require a groundwater extraction permit.

The province agrees. "It's well below any level of concern, even under the worst case scenario, you know dry year," said the province's manager of ground water, George Somers. "From a ground water point of view it's a very small amount of water."

The province's Department of Environment also says an environmental assessment isn't needed.

The company states if the plant goes ahead, it will also work to reduce its impact on the watershed, and will be making an annual donation to the watershed association.

In an email to CBC, president James Wood said the company does not yet have a timeline on the project.

A change of use application has been filed by the company for the land. As part of that, five nearby landowners have been informed and they still have a week to respond to government. 

'We need to close these kinds of loopholes': Green Party

Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, who is also the MLA for the area, is calling on the province to put the plan on hold.

"We need to close these kinds of loopholes," he said in a news release. "Any company that wants to export water from P.E.I. should be required to get a permit so that they can be properly monitored."

"Water is a common good and an invaluable resource. When a group of investors is allowed to extract that common resource purely for their own profit, and we have no way to control the overall size of the industry, I think it shows how unprotected Island water currently is."

'This is my land'

A few dozen community members also held a meeting earlier this week where concerns over the project were raised.

Becky McCue runs a hair salon and lives next to the proposed plant. She couldn't believe it when she got a letter outlining the plan. "I was kind of furious because this is my land," she said, adding she is worried about the future. 

"If we don't protect our Island now what are our grandchildren and children after that going to have? We need water to live, and I don't believe they should be selling our water for their profit. It is wrong." 

McCue says community members are continuing to fight the project. They plan to write a letter to the Island Regulatory and Appeals commission to voice their concerns.

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