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Great Lakes Article:

Chief opposes water pipeline
Nawash chief worries about effect on lakes
Don Crosby
Owen Sound Sun Times
posted 11/09/2002

Local news - The Chippewas of Nawash have added their voice to those concerned about a proposal to pipe water from Georgian Bay or Lake Huron to Walkerton.

It’s one of four options being considered by a team looking into a safe drinking water source for Walkerton.

The proposal, which would also provide water for many other small communities along the way, involves transporting 8,000 to 12,000 cubic metres of water a day either from Wiarton or Southampton.

But Cape Croker Chief Ralph Akiwenzie worries that taking large amounts of water from the Great Lakes could lead to a proliferation of similar projects and that would eventually deplete a valuable resource as well as harm the commercial native fishing industry in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

“In our area if you start a trend like that you could have an impact on our fishery,” said Akiwenzie.

“Water is going to be the number one issue in the future and the Great Lakes are the last bastion of fresh water in North America. They have to be protected.”

Akiwenzie also raised concern that bringing water in bulk from outside the area removes the incentive to clean up local surface and water sources and encouraging further groundwater pollution.

Transferring water by pipeline removes the responsibility of municipalities to provide clean water locally.

That’s a view held by the head of Concerned Walkerton Citizens who is also a member of the public advisory committee involved in the environmental assessment.

“If you are not dependent on your own groundwater are you going to be good stewards of water from somewhere else?” said Ron Leavoy.

Coun. Chris Peabody said the class environmental assessment process should have involved Native communities along the proposed pipeline.

“You can’t run roughshod in this century like you have for the past 500 years over these people. Natives should have been consulted,” Peabody said.

On Sept. 23 Brockton council passed a resolution supporting a joint application by four municipalities to ask the province if it would help pay for a water pipeline.

A similar resolution was passed by South Bruce Peninsula, Saugeen Shores and Arran Elderslie.

The other options include expanding Walkerton’s wells, developing new wells, and buying water from another municipality such as Hanover.

A study by the Ontario Clean Water Agency pegs the cost of one of the pipeline alternatives at $20-40 million depending on the number communities served along the way.

Brockton councillor Charlie Bagnato is opposed to the pipeline option saying the idea would shift the burden of cost onto Brockton residents.

“I think the other three municipalities want it because it won’t cost them much. Walkerton will pay the bulk of it,” said Bagnato who prefers a less costly option closer to home.

“It’s our responsibility not to burden the taxpayers of Brockton,” said Leavoy.

Mayor David Thomson says the process of making a decision on Walkerton’s water has become bogged down and he wants to speed it up by finding out if the government will fund the pipeline option. It’s been about a year since the environmental assessment process began.

“By pushing it a wee bit we’ll get an idea of who is interested and what the cost is,” Thomson said.
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