Saturday, February 22, 2003

OMYA has 'perfect right' to water
Taking surplus water won't cause harm: Queen's prof
Jason Fekete
The Ottawa Citizen
Environment Minister Chris Stockwell overruled a tribunal's ruling that barred OMYA from tripling its water use.
A Queen's University professor who lives along the Tay River says tripling OMYA Canada's water-taking on the river will do little, if any harm to the watershed.

Barrie Jackson, an engineering professor at the Kingston school, argues OMYA taking 4.5 million litres of water daily from the Tay River shouldn't be a concern because there's more than enough to go around.

"Taking surplus water isn't going to do any harm, but if they keep pumping out of the aquifers it could do some long-term damage," said Mr. Jackson, a chemical engineer who lives along the Tay River.

"But I can't see it having an effect on the marine life. OMYA has the perfect right to pump the water and they'll continue to do it."

When asked whether there is evidence to prove there is surplus water in the river, Mr. Jackson said, "How can you prove anything? If we have a torrential downpour, taking the water won't do anything, but if we have a very dry year it will do some harm (to marine life)."

The Swiss multinational mixes the water with crushed calcium carbonate to produce an oozy slurry that's shipped all over North America to make paper, paint, toothpaste, plastics and various other products.

Mr. Jackson said Perth-area residents should be happy to have the company located in the region.

"This whole thing has nothing to do with taking water from the Tay," he said. "It's a bunch of local activists who are bound and determined to shut down OMYA.

"We have very few viable financial operations in this county. OMYA moved in here and now people are bringing up a bunch of mindless crap that they can't substantiate. That's simply what it is."

The Perth-based company originally had permission to take up to 1.5 million litres of water per day from the Tay River until Jan. 1, 2004.

After that, the company was authorized to increase the amount taken to a maximum of 4.5 million litres per day until 2010.