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Atikokan looking for new water source

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Atikokan residents are learning to live with the water ban that has plagued the town for nearly two weeks, but now council there is looking at a more long-term solution.

The ban, put into effect Aug. 2 to deal with the water-shortage problem, has reduced the town’s demand for water by some 20 percent.

“We’ve tried to educate the public, and it’s worked. They’ve adjusted quickly to the situation,” Coun. Garry McKinnon said yesterday.

Atikokan resident Charene Gillies agreed people haven’t found it too hard to adjust.

“People have been pretty good, not using their dishwashers and reducing washing clothes. I, myself, don’t use a lot of water,” she explained yesterday.

And she felt the water-ban has made people aware of how much they rely on—and need—water.

“People have been worried about what will happen if we don’t get any rain soon, but of course, it’s something we can’t control,” she reasoned.

But Coun. McKinnon explained the ban is only a short-term solution to the problem. The long-term plan proposed last week focuses on near-by Plateau Lake as a new water source.

“We’re doing comprehensive research on Plateau Lake to see if its a worthwhile endeavour,” Coun. McKinnon explained

With help from the Ontario Clean Water Agency, Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ministry of Environment, the town has been researching several aspects of the proposed project.

Extensive water sampling is being done to see if the water is of a suitable quality for drinking. The volume of water available also is being looked at to provide estimates on how long that source could serve the population.

Finally, an engineer is being consulted to weigh all the possible mechanisms for getting the water, such as whether a siphon should be used to drain water or a weir should be erected.

“We have two criteria while researching the lake,” noted Coun. McKinnon. “One, it has to be able to supply the town with a continuous source of water in the winter, and two, we have to be sure that the project will not compound any flooding situation in the future.”

Meanwhile, there is a grim irony to the situation, Coun. McKinnon pointed out—the same community stricken with a drought this year faced a flood two years ago.

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