October 18-25, 2004

Walkerton to host new centre for training water system operators

Walkerton, Ontario will be the host community for a new agency to focus on improving training for water systems operators. The Walkerton Clean Water Centre will receive $5 million in funding annually from the province. Its work will build on that of the former Clean Water Legacy Trust and the Clean Water Centre of Excellence. Murray Elston, a former member of the Ontario legislature, has been appointed chair of the new centre's board. Walkerton resident Joseph Heisz will serve as vice-chair.

"Water systems operators have a very important role in making sure the water we drink is safe," said Ontario Environment Minister Leona Dombrowsky. "That's why we are creating the Walkerton Clean Water Centre. It will ensure training is available and accessible to operators in rural and remote communities and to determine the long-term needs of operators."

Creating the centre is the first step in the province's commitment to implement the remaining two of the ten recommendations regarding certification and training made by Commissioner O'Connor. The other eight were addressed earlier this year through Ontario's new operator certification and training regulation.

The Ontario government is also providing $978,000 to the municipality of Brockton, in fulfillment of another commitment by the province to cover 90% of the costs associated with remediating the Walkerton water supply, its ongoing protection and studies to determine a long-term supply strategy.

In related developments, Trojan Technologies has been selected to supply ultraviolet (UV) drinking water disinfection equipment for Walkerton. Two TrojanUVSwift(TM) municipal drinking water disinfection units will provide reliable, cost-effective primary and permanent disinfection of the town's drinking water supply. The two units, which should be installed and operating by this winter, will treat water at a rate of just over 7,100 cubic metres per day.

The Trojan system will form an integral part of the "multiple barrier" treatment strategy recommended in Part Two of the Walkerton Commission of Inquiry Report into the outbreak of E.coli 0157 in May, 2000. The report concluded that UV disinfection can provide a primary defence among the "combination of steps" required to achieve a healthy public water supply.

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