Wallaceburg ratepayers will have a chance to provide input on where their drinking water will come from in the future.
Wallaceburg Coun. Jeff Wesley made sure of that at Thursday’s Public Utilities Commission meeting.
The PUC board was considering holding its next meeting in Wallaceburg, and inviting the public to come and hear an update from the consulting firm hired to look at options. The problem is the public wasn’t going to get an opportunity to speak.
The municipality hired Stantec Consulting out of Windsor to conduct a class environmental assessment of the Wallaceburg and area water supply system. In late November, it recommended shutting down the Wallaceburg treatment plant and pumping water, which would originate in Lake Erie, from the Chatham plant.
That, plus limited public input, incensed many Wallaceburg residents.
“The last Wallaceburg public meeting was very flawed,” Wesley said. “Stantec needs to have another one and listen to what the people say. The public’s concerns did not get addressed.”
Wesley and PUC general manager Tom Kissner will now meet to go over every public concern, before taking them to Stantec.
Wesley said it is imperative the public have its say, and receive feedback.
“We’ve got to get this process right. Stantec is going to meet with the public to answer all issues raised. There are a lot of questions and concerns. A lot of people have provided input, but no one has received any answers.”
He said the source of the drinking water is an issue, as many would prefer getting it from Lake Huron rather than Lake Erie, where recent summers have caused algae blooms, leading to smell, taste and colour concerns with Chatham’s drinking water.
As well, Wesley said Wallaceburg would be at the end of a long pipe, leaving little in the way of options if expansion was ever desired.
He added there hasn’t been an issue in Wallaceburg that “has galvanized so many people since the hospital.”