Corner Brook Watershed drilling proposed, to commence soon

January 21, 2013

I normally publish on Thursdays, but there are tight time constraints on an important issue facing Corner Brook, so I’m writing this column double quick-time for a Monday posting.

A public consultation is a key part of the environmental assessment process. There is a project underway that requires your attention before January 29. Perhaps you’re already aware of it: a mineral exploration company wishes to drill in the vicinity of the city’s water supply.

The Facts

The City of Corner Brook has received an application from Thomas Resources Inc. requesting permission to carry out mineral exploration in the Corner Brook Lake Watershed. Key fact: this is the water supply area for the Municipalities of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah.

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 9.56.30 PMClick here for the public notice on CornerBrook.com and the original project description.

The exploration activity will consist of core drilling for signs of garnet and kyanite at 9 different locations approximately 600 meters north of the western end of Corner Brook Lake. In total there will be about 21 holes drilled. The drilling will take place this winter. Materials will be transported to the drill sites by helicopter and snowmobiles to reduce ground disturbance.

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 9.59.01 PM
Amendment made in 2006 that activated the 45-day consultation period.

The company has been in the area doing mapping, surveying, and extracting minerals for analysis for over 10 years. However, because of an amendment made in 2006 to the City of Corner Brook Watershed Regulations, a 45 day public consultation period is now required before council can make a decision for any application that involves development activity in the Corner Brook Watershed. The deadline for public comment is January 29th (hence the urgency of this column).

watershed-3d
This is the area to be drilled for samples. I couldn’t get out there to take a picture, so Google Earth comes to the rescue. To the left is Corner Brook Lake, water supply for Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah. The yellow line roughly illustrates where the drilling will take place.

What does this mean?

That was the facts from the project description. Now I offer a bit of commentary. Corner Brook Lake is where your potable (drinking) water comes from. Is the idea of mineral drilling so close to your water supply appealing? A watershed is defined as the total land area that contributes runoff to a stream or river (Nathanson, 2008). Runoff is water that flows over the ground.

Watershed-Nathanson
A simplfied diagram of a watershed. Imagine how a funnel works (Nathanson, 2008).

It’s actually not uncommon for mineral exploration to take place within watershed zones. The provincial government makes the decisions according to its own set of regulations. In this case, however, Corner Brook City Council has the power to make the final decision about what happens in its water supply area.

But Corner Brook residents have their opportunity to comment as well before the January 29 deadline.

The debate has been going on for more than 10 years in this region: is some economic gain worth risking our drinking water?

Have your say! Even a short, simple email expressing concern is good.

January 29th is looming! 

To participate in the public consultation, the public should use the following methods to contact:

Development & Planning Office
637-1549 or 637-1554
Email: planning@cornerbrook.com

 

City of Corner Brook
P.O. Box 1080
Corner Brook, NL
A2H 6E1
Fax: 637-1514

Reference
Nathanson, J. A. (2008). Basic Environmental Technology. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. 

  • Mr. Corner Brook

    Wow…I didn’t even know Corner Brook HAD a lake!

  • JOHN A.

    I’m not sure if the City even knows what they are talking about. The water supply in this article distributes water to the Westside of Corner Brook, and Massey Drive. A SEPARATE water supply system of 5 ponds in Curling (entrance near Lundrigan Drive) supplies water to Mount Moriah, Curling, and the Eastside. It’s really hard to have confidence in the City going forward with this when they can’t even get the facts straight.

    • Jess

      What does Trout Pond supply?

  • Marilee Pittman

    Can we not get a link to Development & Planning Dept so people can link directly from this site?

  • Katie

    Thanks for this article Ian. Drilling in watersheds just doesn’t make sense – I hope the City doesn’t even begin to entertain the idea of letting this happen. I’ve heard lots of opposition to this, so hopefully everyone will get in touch with City Hall to express their views.

  • Danielle

    Proposed drilling in Corner Brook Lake Watershed
    Check out CBC’s interview with chair of the Western Environment Centre, Simon Jansen:
    http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Newfoundland/ID/2327018521/