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Protecting the “purest water in the world”

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In AWARE News Network
Oct 23rd, 2021
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Photos by Cole Burtson Le Devoir
Bonnie Pauzé examines the water from a well near her home. The water in Tiny Township, Ontario is exceptionally pure.

From Le Devoir, October 16, 2021
By Étienne Lajoie

“We live on Earth, it provides us with what we need. But then we started removing parts from the space shuttle in mid-flight,” says Bonnie Pauzé at the dining table of her century-old home in the village of Waverley, Tiny Township, recognized by some as being the cradle of the Ontario Francophonie.

For more than a decade, Bonnie Pauzé, a Franco-Ontarian who grew up near Lafontaine, the birthplace of popular singer Damien Robitaille, has been fighting to protect the water flowing under her home, an essential part of the said shuttle. The water is the “purest in the world,” according to laboratory analyzes by William Shotyk, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Alberta. But it is more than ever threatened by aggregate careers, fear Bonnie Pauzé and specialists like William Shotyk.

A pond on the grounds of Bonnie Pauzé.

Companies including Dufferin Aggregates and The Sarjeant Company have been operating quarries in Waverley for over 10 years. Already, these operations have had consequences on water quality, say residents. But renewable resources specialist Michael Powell says the repercussions could worsen over the next few years if the Ontario Land Use Planning Tribunal rules in favor of Dufferin Aggregates and allows the expansion of operations the company wants. at the Teedon quarry, two kilometers from Bonnie Pauzé’s.

The new 13.5 hectare extraction area, north of the current quarry area, would encroach on French’s Hill, a wooded hill of about 300 meters that stands between Bonnie Pauzé’s house and the Teedon quarry. French’s Hill is a natural filter that removes contaminants and maintains good water quality, explains William Shotyk. “And now someone comes in and is going to take part of the hill and in doing so, take out the filter,” lamented the professor.

Anne Ritchie Nahuis and Bonnie Pauzé consult a topographic map by Tiny and Tay.

A passion

“Taste this water”, offers Bonnie Pauzé after the presentations, filling a glass with a tube linked to an underground cistern, watched over by the figurine of a guardian angel. Born to a mother from Trois-Rivières and a Franco-Ontarian father, Bonnie Pauzé bought the 56-acre land with her husband Jake in 1993.

A glass of water drawn from a well near Bonnie Pauzé’s.

The Franco-Ontarian noticed problems in her water for the first time 16 years later. Cedarhurst, which owned the Teedon quarry in 2009, began washing aggregate at the time. Wishing to visualize the evolution of the quality of her water, Bonnie Pauzé decided to keep samples in mason jars, which she continues to do to this day.

To learn more about the situation, in 2015, Bonnie and her husband enlisted the services of a hydrogeologist, to determine if the aggregate washing at the quarry – sold by Cedarhurst to Dufferin Aggregates in 2017 – was responsible. the appearance of silt in the water. In a report delivered in October 2015 , the hydrogeologist replied in the affirmative to the hypothesis of his clients. But a month later, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment refuted his findings .

Awareness campaigns similar to that of Bonnie Pauzé, opposing dissatisfied communities to aggregate companies and the government, have been numerous in recent years, relates Andrew O’Brien. The York University JD student thoroughly studied the Aggregate Resources Act, which governs the industry.


Groups are mobilizing to prevent the expansion of the career of Dufferin Aggregates.

“The Act only approves projects for industry without discussion,” he suggests. The lawyer followed twenty battles like Waverley’s: one project was canceled only three or four times.

At one time, Ontario aggregate companies had to demonstrate to the government that there was a demand for the materials they planned to extract, but that has not been the case since 2005. The new direction has fueled “competition” between companies, says Andrew O’Brien. It should be noted that neither Dufferin Aggregates nor Sarjeant answered questions from Le Devoir .

Today, careers like Waverley’s are ubiquitous in Ontario. In 2020, 167 million tonnes of aggregate were extracted in the province’s quarries. A little more than half were sold to companies which obtained contracts from the Ontario government; the Department of Transport is the most important customer. With Ontario’s population growing, demand will only continue to grow.

But campaigners in the Waverley Water Protection Campaign fail to understand why the village has been targeted by businesses, knowing that the water is of exceptional quality. “It’s not the ‘Not in my backyard’ syndrome. It is internationally recognized water, ”insists Michael Powell.

By the New Year, a panel of experts that includes Michael Powell and William Shotyk will submit a plan to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for a research project to further study water and risk that the extraction poses. By the end of the research, however, the expansion of Teedon’s career must be stopped, urges Michael Powell.

Campaign engine

“I’ll give you Michael Powell’s number, he’s coming,” said Bonnie Pauzé from the top of French’s Hill to the owner of land adjacent to the Teedon quarry. The renewable resources specialist will be visiting next week to take water samples from Lake Orr, in the neighboring village, explains Bonnie Pauzé.

In Elmvale, every Friday, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., the Franco-Ontarian and her friend Anne Ritchie-Nahuis distribute leaflets of their “Save our Water – Stop the Pits” campaign near a kiosk where Ontarians from everywhere in the province stop to fill their jugs with the “purest water in the world”. “The water is clean, there is nothing in it,” says John Porter. Peter Frazer has been coming with his wife Sally for years. Fifty bottles are in his chest; he uses just over one a day, he says.

Peter Frazer regularly picks up drinking water in Elmvale.

At the refueling station, Bonnie Pauzé never stops defending the water. “Bonnie is the real heroine,” compliments her friend Anne in the dining room. But these days, Bonnie has her own French’s Hill to overcome. After 30 years of career as a nurse, she had to fight against breast cancer in 2018 and must manage the Cushing syndrome which has afflicted her since 2013. The Franco-Ontarian believes that the stress caused by the cause that she has been defending since 2009 and may have had a role to play in her state of health. “I lost a lot of energy with the water issue – I have to take care of myself,” she says on the phone a few days after visiting with Le Devoir .

When the energy is gone, she walks alone the few hundred meters that separate her from the land of her neighbor Jack Dyer, then climbs a little used path to a stream on the hill. “The stream gives me hope. It just keeps coming out of the earth, ”she emphasizes.

“I go over there and think, ‘Bonnie, you need to find some more energy.’ ”

See the article here

One Response to “Protecting the “purest water in the world””

  1. Pat Thompson says:

    Please, please, please do not take away this beautiful water by allowing corporations to take advantage of its being there.

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