SHAWANAGA – Shawanaga’s water system is being improved and expanded.
Along with the annual $376,730 in operating funds for Shawanaga’s water system, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development said it approved the first of two phases of upgrades to the system on May 31.
Phase one is a $40,000 project to bring the system up to Ontario’s safe drinking water standards. The project has been started and is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2012.
The second phase is a $1.8 million project with a completion date of June 2013.
“Phase two will include expanding the water treatment plant’s pump houses and installation of turbidity alarms and back flow valves,” said ministry spokesperson Brock Worobel.
In 2006 the First Nation applied to the government to upgrade its water system, which would increase the reservoir and fire hydrant coverage.
In 2006 though, a road was built to a nearby community that, two years later, decimated the two wells, reducing the supply from up to 30 gallons per minute down to as little as half a gallon per minute, said Shawanaga head councillor Adam Pawis in July, following the July 24 brush fire that forced residents in the community to evacuate.
“It was that time that the (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development) pulled the plans on the upgrade because there wasn’t enough water to supply the upgrade,” said Pawis in July. “So, we’ve been in this great debate whether or not we get this water surface treatment plant either on Shawanaga River or Georgian Bay, one or the other. And, the plan, in general, is to build a water surface treatment plant because we’ve drilled 10 wells in the area trying to find more water for the community water supply and all those wells we’ve drilled have come up dry.”
He pointed out that while area communities were mandated by the province to upgrade water systems after the deadly 2000 e-coli outbreak in Walkerton, Shawanaga never got the upgraded system it wanted.
A request last week for comment from the community about the approved water system work received no response.