Does anyone want Lake Erie water?

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The W.P. Moynihan Water Treatment Centre on Mason Street in Wallaceburg where that community’s drinking water has been filtered for decades may be closed if a municipal consulting firm gets its way. The firm has recommended the municipality not proceed with a $3.4 million upgrade and instead spend between $12 million and $20 million to extend a line from Chatham or Dresden.
The W.P. Moynihan Water Treatment Centre on Mason Street in Wallaceburg where that community’s drinking water has been filtered for decades may be closed if a municipal consulting firm gets its way. The firm has recommended the municipality not proceed with a $3.4 million upgrade and instead spend between $12 million and $20 million to extend a line from Chatham or Dresden.

Local residents aren’t likely to get a chance to comment on the future of Wallaceburg’s water supply until after the Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission views a controversial report on the issue.

Andrew Galloway, an engineering technologist with the PUC, said the commission would review a report from Stantec Consulting that recommends Wallaceburg receive water from Lake Erie.

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That option was announced at a public meeting last year, but met with opposition on a number of fronts, including the local environmental group WATCH that has requested a meeting with the PUC.

Galloway said a meeting can be arranged, but the information will be the same as that provided at last year’s public input session.

He said the PUC and Stantec have received about 100 responses to a call for public input.

“We will be providing information where requested,” he said.

He expects the PUC to address the report by the end of March.

WATCH (Wallaceburg Advisory Team for a Cleaner Habitat) director Sheldon Parsons said the group’s directors have contacted people throughout Wallaceburg and brought back concerns, comments and questions.

“We will be seeking a face-to-face meeting with the PUC before there are any further public input meetings.”

The Stantec report recommended abandoning the current Chenal Ecarte source of Wallaceburg water in favour of building a pipeline from Chatham or Dresden to tap into Chatham’s Lake Erie intake source.

Parsons said WATCH has deemed Lake Erie as the least desirable of the options listed by Stantec.

“There are considerable questions about Lake Erie’s algae bloom and turbidity and the amount of chlorine which has to be added to counter that,” he said.

Parsons said instances of foul smelling and discoloured water in Chatham last year, the closing of water intakes in Ohio and the decision by Detroit to build a pipeline to Lake Huron rather than draw water from Lake Erie indicate the concern is justified.

Parsons is also concerned that the possibility of drawing water directly from the Lake Huron system was virtually ignored.

Parsons said Wallaceburg is already connected to the Lambton Area Water Supply System that uses Lake Huron as its source.

“We’ve used the pipeline in both directions” he said. “It makes sense from any kind of planning perspective to have more than one supply. It’s one more reason not to sole source from Lake Erie.

“The idea (of connecting to Lambton) was certainly very alive several years ago when it was seriously studied. I’m not sure what makes it not even worthy of discussion now.”

Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley said he’s extremely upset at the tone and method of the process so far.

“I expected there would be discussion of pros and cons with an opportunity for participation from the public,” he said. “What I saw was a very strong indication that the decision has already been made and they wanted our approval.”

Wesley said he’s been pushing to have the Walpole Island First Nations involved in the process, but that community wasn’t even contacted.

Wallaceburg Coun. Carmen McGregor said the process has lacked “true and open consultation” to date.

“There weren’t many details prior to the November meeting and it seemed like at the time it was a done deal. I know both Jeff and myself have been copied on plenty of emails to Stantec.”

Wallaceburg resident Henrie Timmers, has organized an online petition opposing Lake Erie water at change.org.

As of press time, the petition had garnered the support of nearly 500 people.

“This looks suspicious to me,” Timmers said, “I don’t know who’s pushing this behind the scenes but someone’s very determined to get us into the Chatham system.”

In addition to the water quality issue, Timmers said the project doesn’t make sense from an economic standpoint.

“Upgrading the Wallaceburg plant is a $3.4 million dollar expense while bringing water in from Chatham will cost between $12 and $20 million,” he said. “Chatham water will cost us millions more right away and even after 20 years there’s no savings. They had to go to an estimated cost over 40 years to justify the project financially. Does anyone really believe these people can have a realistic projection over 40 years?

They’re trying to put forth the information that backs up what they want to do.”

Timmers said he has spoken to “no one” who favours Lake Erie water for Wallaceburg.

“Our council members are against it, environmental groups don’t want it, the chamber of commerce is opposed and every person I’ve talked to believes it’s a bad idea,” he said. “The only reason the petition doesn’t have several thousand more signatures is that people believe Chatham is going to do what it wants no matter if it makes sense for us or not.”

Comments

comments

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yes Chatham Kent Councill – does not allow for delegations at Council meetings anymore everything is decided before the meeting — Open and Honest wasn't that what Mayor Hope said… go figure no better today than when he was one of Bob Raes whipping boys…

  2. I for one certainly don't want Lake Erie Water!! If I remember correctly at a meeting, Mayor Hope was asked to drink the green water beings he had said it was okay to drink….He declined. Why should I be forced to drink, cook and bathe in this water.

  3. I have talked to people who live in Chatham and they are very unhappy with the yellow/smelly water that they have to contend with. They had to bring in bottled water while the water smelled and tasted so bad. This is not what we in Wallaceburg are looking forward to having piped into our homes. Why does the Chatham Kent Council think that they know better than the people involved. The cost alone should be one deterrent for having to pipe the water from Chatham as we already have access to Lake Huron water from Lambton County. Is it because they did not come up with the idea themselves. Gee what a shame that the people involve in our community might know something that they did not come up with. What do the citizens of Wallaceburg have to do to have Council listen for a change. I have signed this petition and would like my views listened to.

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