Lakehead drinking water plan approved

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The provincial government has approved the Lakehead Source Protection Plan, making the Thunder Bay area the first in Ontario with a comprehensive source-to-tap drinking water protection plan.
The Lakehead source protection plan for Rosslyn Village and City of Thunder Bay drinking water systems outlines policies to ensure that all significant and potential threats to the systems are managed, and ensures that they will not become significant drinking water risks.
The plan was developed by the Lakehead source protection committee and its partners, with resources provided by the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority. Work on the plan began in July 2007 when the Clean Water Act was passed.
LRCA chairman Bill Bartley said committee members put a lot of effort into developing the plan to ensure that the drinking water sources in the two communities are protected.
The impacts of source protection planning on individual landowners varies across the watershed, depending on where they live, the activities they engage in and land uses in proximity to municipal drinking water sources.
Thunder Bay and Oliver Paipoonge will play a central role in implementation of the protection plan.
Lake Superior is the source of water for Thunder Bay’s drinking water, with the surface water intake located 750 metres offshore at Bare Point. Bare Point is the single source of residential drinking water for the city, serving a population of more than 100,000.
Rosslyn Village, in the municipality of Oliver Paipoonge, draws its water from two groundwater wells which are operated alternately and supply about 30 homes.
When details of the plan were unveiled last February, Oliver Paipoonge's CAO at the time, Jamie Cressman, said the town was already doing everything it has been asked to do under the drinking water source protection plan. He said the water-monitoring provisions in the Clean Water Act were in place.
The plan doesn’t cover private wells, just the aquifer that supplies water to Rosslyn Village. The source protection plan includes the area around the aquifer to ensure it doesn’t get contaminated.
The Lakehead source protection committee is one of 19 established across the province.
The provincial government, through the ministries of Natural Resources and Environment, is providing funds to conservation authorities to co-ordinate source water protection at the local level.
When completed, watershed-based source protection plans will protect more than 450 municipal drinking water sources.

(This is an edited version of a story that was originally published Jan. 17, 2013.)