The possibility of transporting water from the treatment plant in Sturgeon Falls to Verner using the CPR corridor has entered a new phase, reported Peter Ming, Manager of Water & Wastewater for the municipality of West Nipissing. A feasibility study undertaken to examine the plan, conducted by consultants AECOM, allowed a 45-day window for public input in April of 2021. Both Nipissing and Dokis First nation requested to be kept apprised of any findings for the Stage 1 archeological assessment, and Dokis also asked for controls on any spreading phragmites (pronounced “frag-my-teez”), an invasive perennial grass causing damage to Ontario’s biodiversity, wetlands and beaches.
August 9 marked the end of the completed Environmental Assessment process. Next are the actual designs. “AECOM will meet with Allan Korrel (municipal engineer) and myself… for the conceptual designs. Once we have those, we have to negotiate with CPR… [and will] be looking for the next stage in December  for approvals,” said Ming. He also assured that the current situation in Verner is stable and can be maintained for several years while the town looks for funding opportunities for what will be a multi-million-dollar project.
Ming elaborated on the plans, providing some historical perspective. “Verner has a water treatment plant built in the early 70’s, so it’s aged, about 50 years old, and eventually we will need to replace that.” The plant doesn’t meet today’s standards for redundancy if there’s ever a problem where the plant has to be shut down for repairs. “Verner has a water tower, so depending on the time of year, we have three to six hours of water.” He explained that in Sturgeon Falls there’s a large reservoir by the river, under the tennis courts, which could supply the town with water for a full day if there was a problem. Although the water plant in Verner is 50 years old, Ming maintains the plant has several good years of operations ahead of it, and the problems of brown water have been resolved.
The Verner plant draws its water from the Veuve River, which is very high in manganese, which led to brown water during certain times of the year. “New regulations came into play two or three years ago that the [old] process designed to treat the water created compounds, chlorates and chlorites – [that] may be carcinogenic… not confirmed. …The government forced us to treat the water in a different way,” said Ming. “We struggled to comply with this requirement… We changed the chemicals a year ago, which does not create the chlorites and chlorates.” He said that the department was very pleased with the results and have not had any complaints over the last two years. “None this year and only a few from last year, and those were unrelated to the treatment plant.”