Lake Superior can be seen in this Tbnewswatch.com photo on July 6, 2012.
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The Lakehead Source Protection Committee has outlined a plan it hopes will protect the city’s drinking water and prevent a disaster similar to that of Walkerton.
The Lakehead committee finished its plan to protect the source drinking water from Lake Superior. The plan was developed over a period of five years in order to protect city drinking water sources for both Thunder Bay and Rosslyn Village.
The protection plan was in response to the Walkerton, Ont. tragedy in 2000 when E.coli bacteria contaminated the city’s water supply. Thousands became sick after drinking the contaminated water and at least seven deaths were directly linked to the outbreak.
Committee chair Bob Hartley said their plan is to ensure that tragedy doesn’t happen here.
“There are 21 identified threats in Ontario that could possibly impact the drinking water systems,” Hartley said.
“Our main ones here for example are the Rosslyn Village septic and waste from farm operations. If the septic systems aren’t working properly it can get into the aqua filter, which is the source for Roselyn’s water. We have helped a number of residents in that area with some funding to upgrade their systems to make it meet the ministry’s standards.”
Another issue that’s being looked at is that Lake Superior also flows into the state of Minnesota. Hartley said the provincial government is in ongoing negotiations with the United States to ensure the lake is protected on both sides of the border.
Ontario has also proposed the Great Lakes Protection Act. The act would ensure great lakes in Canada don’t degrade further and maintained or upgraded them if there are problems.
The act would then establish a Great Lakes Guardians Council chaired by environment minister Jim Bradley and include other ministers, municipal representatives, First Nations members, people from the agriculture sector and scientists.
Hartley said it’s up to everyone to ensure all bodies of water are protected.
“I think everybody who looks out at the big pond here realizes it’s a gem,” he said. “The lake is unbeatable in the world and we have to maintain and protect that lake. Each one of us has a share in doing that.”
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