Water, Water … Going Everywhere

Water, Water … Going Everywhere

Imagine a giant sipping on a straw.

Now imagine the giant is communities as far flung as Kitchener and Milton; the straw is TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. (TCPL); and the beverage is Georgian Bay.

Just a pipedream? If it’s successful, a $500 million proposal now before the Ontario Government would see a 150 km line pumping water from Georgian Bay at Collingwood south to serve Kitchener, Barrie or York region.

TCPL quietly pitched its plan to many thirsty municipalities for two years before making its submission to the Ontario government in January this year. They sought support from Tiny Council in December ’92, but failed to receive it. However, there are strong proponents of the proposal, such as Halton and Waterloo, whose ability to grow is limited by water supplies from acquifers.

The pipeline would be the longest in Ontario, dwarfing other such links as an existing 56 km line between Lake Huron and London. It would draw 227 million litres (approximately 60 million gallons) of water a day from the Bay, according to TCPL spokesperson Frank Dabbs.

To give some idea of the quantities involved, this would be the equivalent of 300 average-size swimming pools, or a small lake.

How likely is this scheme? While TCPL says it is committed to the project there are “complex regulatory issues” to be considered, according to Dabbs. Meanwhile, Meredith Beresford, Director of Provincial Planning, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, says the government is looking, not at the TransCanada proposal, but at the “concept” of a drinking water pipeline from the Bay, “and whether it is the right way to go.” It is currently under study by some six affected Ministries including Environment, Natural Resources and Treasury. A decision is expected this year. While there are major environmental implications, says Beresford, the project would yield badly needed jobs.

As one of the only clean major bodies of water close to major Ontario metropolises, Georgian Bay will increasingly be viewed by thirsty communities as a simple way to handle the water requirements of present and future taxpayers and by companies such as TCPL as a potential source of revenue. It’s in everyone’s interests to make sure economics don’t override environmental considerations.

For more information, or to express an opinion, write Bud Wildman, Minister of the Environment, 135 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto M4W lP5, or call (416) 3234356.