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Aquilinis ‘optimistic’ about water licences
Requests for water allocations from the North Alouette River could be given the go-ahead by the end of the year, according to an Aquilini group spokesman.
John Negrin, with Aquilini Investment Group, said he has reason to be optimistic the permits will be granted by the end of the year.
The six applications, dating from 2007 – to pump water from the river for flood harvesting of cranberries, irrigation and storage – are the same applications that were in process when Aquilini companies were charged in 2011 under the Water Act, the Fisheries Act and Dike Maintenance Act.
Charges include diverting water without authority, illegal use of water, and installing a pump into the river without authorization.
A notice of intention to enter guilty pleas on some of those charges has been filed for the next court appearance, Oct. 23.
According to a spokesman, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is still reviewing those same applications for water licences submitted by the six companies that are all part of the Golden Eagle Group, which operates thousands of acres of berry fields in Pitt Meadows.
Golden Eagle Group is part of the Aquilini Investment Group, which also owns the Vancouver Canucks.
A definite date, however, as to when the permits will be issued, hasn't been set, said the ministry.
"In order to maintain fairness in the application process, we are not able to speculate on the timing of this decision."
As soon as water licences are granted, details are published on the website.
If the permits are granted, the same withdrawal pipe over which charges initially were laid, would be used for pumping the water.
Alouette River Management Society spokesman Geoff Clayton said in a letter to the ministry that the applications seem to be moving toward approval.
But he renewed his call for wireless monitoring of the withdrawals so the public can keep an eye on the flows.
Clayton notes the branch doesn't have the manpower to do that task and says Golden Eagle Group already uses that technology throughout its berry operations.
Golden Eagle Group said in 2009 that it pumped water from the river briefly to save young cranberry plants during a dry spring.
The counts, considered regulatory offences rather than criminal matters, are filed against five individuals, two companies, as well as six numbered companies, by the Ministry of Environment's conservation officer service.
Named in the charges are Elisa Aquilini, Francesco Aquilini, Paulo Aquilini, Roberto Aquilini and Richard Matis, as well as CPI – Cranberry Plantation, and Global Coin Corp.