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Atikokan to tap lake for water


After enduring a water shortage for more than a month now, Atikokan finally may see an end to their woes in the form of Plateau Lake.

Originally proposed in the 1970s, the plan to tap into Plateau Lake as a new water source was considered by the town two weeks ago at a Municipal Control Group meeting.

“We have received very preliminary plans concerning the project, and that’s the option we have chosen to focus on now,” Coun. Garry McKinnon said Monday.

After extensive testing is done on the lake by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, and the Ontario Clean Water Agency, the M.C.G. hopes to have all the red tape cleared soon so construction can begin by mid-September or early October.

“[The construction] should take six weeks, and we would like to have it done by November,” said Coun. McKinnon, stressing the importance of getting the water source in use before winter sets in.

The means of tapping the lake for water will be through the use of a weir.

“After extensive review, we’ve found that a siphon is very susceptible to freezing, compromising its structural integrity,” Coun. McKinnon noted. “A concrete structure with a gate in it would be much more effective we decided.”

“The lake is 675 hectares in surface area, and has many tributaries--it’s a very large body of water,” said Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown.

The lake is only eight km from Atikokan’s water treatment plant, and if there was a flood, like the one two years ago, the weir could be completely closed so no water could come through.

Although there appears to be no immediate danger of running out of water, the M.C.G. remains concerned about a continued supply of water into--and through--the winter months.

“We’re holding our own at this juncture,” said Coun. McKinnon. “We still have an inflow but there is an acute problem in that we must have a solution before the winter.”

The “Plateau Lake solution” looks like a good bet, he noted.

“It will allow us to monitor to see if any further measures will need to be taken in the spring,” he added.

As for now, the M.C.G. could only guess if the water supply from the river will hold out until the Plateau Lake project is completed.

“We’re confident that if the river were to stop today, we’d be able to alleviate the problem in two days--our contingencies are in place,” Coun. McKinnon assured.

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