Saugeen Conservation to renew contract with NWMO

By Pauline Kerr

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

FORMOSA- Saugeen Conservation voted to continue with year two of an agreement with Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s environmental baseline monitoring program, June 2022 to June 2023.

This will entail hiring water resources technicians.

Jennifer Stephens, Saugeen Conservation’s general manager, presented a report on the project at the March 17 meeting of the board of directors.

In 2021, SVCA entered into a service agreement with NWMO to carry out the first year of a baseline monitoring program in the Teeswater River watershed on surface water and hydrology on a fee-for-service basis.

To date, SVCA has completed two water quality sampling events in the fall and winter of 2021-22. Sampling is done at 35 wetland, lake and river sites, which amounts to a significant amount of work.

Additional sampling will take place in May and July. Part of the service agreement states that SVCA staff may be called on “for engagement activities with the community, First Nations and the Metis,” said Stephens in her report. The NWMO and SVCA are discussing two or three events where the public would come and learn about water quality sampling.

Stephens requested permission to hire two technicians on short-term (four- to six-month) contracts to assist with the remainder of activities under the current service agreement. Funds to cover these positions would come directly from the NWMO.

Years two and three of the program would entail expanding the collection of samples which would “further enhance our understanding of the impact of nutrient runoff on the receiving ecosystems.”

Stephens asked the board for permission to continue with year two of the surface water program, and extend the contracts of the two technicians to 14 months.

She explained to the board that the program includes installation of gauges “that will benefit our own programs.” In addition, the work of the two technicians “would enhance our knowledge.”

Board member Barbara Dobreen commented that everything is “fully paid for by NWMO but we benefit from the data.”

Board member Cheryl Grace expressed concern about those public engagement events, in light of the controversy over the NWMO in South Bruce.

“We need to make a statement saying (our) participation is not an endorsement,” said Grace.

Stephens said that would be clearly communicated to the NWMO and explained the SVCA had pretty much been given “carte blanche”

about how to conduct those programs.

Board member Mark Davis stated, “This is wrong. We should be staying `clean.”’ However, he acknowledged the matter had been voted on (at the February meeting). He wanted assurance the SVCA was getting “an administration fee” for its services.

Board chair Maureen Couture stressed the importance of steering clear of any appearance of endorsing NWMO’s plans.

“We rely on you to keep this separate,” said board member Bill Stewart to Stephens.

Stephens agreed, saying, “Our expertise is water quality monitoring and hydrology, we provide a service.”

Grace expressed further concern about what SVCA employees might say to members of the public at the events, and Stephens assured her staff would not be answering questions about the DGR (deep geological repository).

 Pauline Kerr is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the WALKERTON HERALD TIMES. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI government funding.

 

 

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