Where will Wallaceburg get its water?

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Consultants hired by the Chatham-Kent PUC are recommending that Wallaceburg receive its drinking water from Chatham.

Dozens of people attended a public meeting at the UAW Hall in Wallaceburg Nov. 26 to discuss possible water sources.

Stantec Consulting Ltd. presented in detail a series of options, which included rehabilitating the current Wallaceburg Water Treatment Plant.

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Stantec also announced that their “preferred alternative” was connecting to the Chatham water supply, which gets its water from Lake Erie.

“There is still more work that has to be done with regards to that decision, so we have to look at routing and do that work,” said Tom Kissner, general manager of the Chatham-Kent PUC. “Right now, we’ve gone through the process, the Class EA process, and that is the outcome of that Class EA process. Really the preferred alternative is to connect to the Chatham system.”

Kissner added, “Certainly, people have the ability to comment and those comments will come into play, but the evaluation that we’ve gone through for the Class EA…and the outcome of the evaluation is a preferred solution and that really is the preferred solution.”

Stantec outlined the financial impact of each alternative, with upgrading the Wallaceburg Treatment Plant costing approximately $3.4 million in the short term for capital costs to rehabilitate the existing facility.

However, Stantec said staying with the Wallaceburg option, the long-term forecast of 40 years would see it costing upwards to $67.2 million.

Stantec’s preferred option of connecting to the Chatham drinking water system would cost more in the short term for capital cost, approximately $11.9 million to $20.3 million, depending on which of the four design solutions are chosen.

The projected 40-year financial outlook ranges from $37.5 million to $41.2 million.

Stantec officials said another alternative, connecting to the Lambton water system, would require “significant” upgrades in order to be a viable option.

Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley, who sat as the chair of the PUC during the last term of council, disagreed the recommendation.

“I am here to represent the community, but I also have family here, I have grandkids, friends and family and I have yet to hear anybody, during the election campaign or leading up to this, telling me they prefer a Lake Erie solution,” he said. “I’ve heard it from no one.”

Wesley added, “That should be a pretty simple answer and resolution to the issue. When you look at the cost, forget the 40-year cost, you can work anything you want into that. Look at the near term cost and the 20-year cost…it’s competitive. I make the argument, if you stay with what we have here and you make the local improvements, we’ll actually be better off financially.”

During the meeting, several people expressed their concern about the blue-green algae issue that was prevalent in Lake Erie last summer, and how this could effect Wallaceburg drinking water.

“Our treatment processes that are currently in place are designed to treat raw water of Lake Erie quality,” Kissner said. “When you talk about blue-green algae during the summer months, we do extra sampling. We look at micro systems, which is an indicator of blue-green algae and one of the concerns with blue-green algae. We do the extra sampling and we’ve not detected it in the raw water that is coming into the Chatham Water Treatment plant.”

Stantec stated that a third and final public meeting will take place before the report is finalized.

The meeting date has yet to be confirmed.

Stantec officials stated further comments are being accepted from the public until Dec. 12.

These comments can be sent to Andrew Galloway, engineering technologist, Water/Wastewater, Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission at 519-436-0119 ext. 313 or andrewga@chatham-kent.ca.

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