It’s time the Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission put its plans to close Wallaceburg’s Water Treatment plant on hold, at least temporarily.
Next week, a sub-committee of the PUC will meet to decide whether to endorse a plan by Stantec Consulting to close the plant and provide Wallaceburg’s water via pipeline from Lake Erie.
With half the committee comprised of Stantec consultants and PUC staff, it will be surprising if it makes the right decision.
At a time when even the most optimistic figures show it will be decades before any savings, Chatham-Kent is preparing to turn off the tap on Lake Huron as a water source.
The reasons are as murky as the Thames River in August.
Most of Chatham-Kent now gets its water from Lake Erie, an eco-system under siege. The past few years have seen a marked degradation in water quality.
Lack of infrastructure spending has led to municipalities dumping millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the lake.
Misguided woodlot management policy locally has resulted in deforestation and an acceleration of agri-chemicals entering the lake.
The PUC spent more than $1 million upgrading the Chatham water treatment plant to eliminate the foul smelling, discoloured Lake Erie water two years ago.
This year, a 300 square mile algae bloom covered most of the western basin. Residents in some areas likened it to pea soup.
Last year, Toledo Ohio, with a population nearly three times that of Chatham-Kent, closed its intake for days due to algae poisoned water.
There is no doubt Lake Erie needs to be cleaned up but while that’s being done it would be prudent to have a backup plan should the situation get worse before it gets better.
It isn’t out of the question that in an emergency the Wallaceburg plant could supply some water to the rest of the community.
Tell us, again, why we need to move now?