Nick Lypaczewski | February 21, 2012 | Times Journal | Shared as education material
An individual who experienced first-hand the devastating impact of contaminated drinking water will be in St. Thomas on Wednesday in hopes of preventing future tragedies.
“It’s about really bringing that awareness to people that: you can look at the Walkerton tragedy and say seven people died and half the town got ill, but most people aren’t aware of the fact that there’s still people who are ill to this day in this community, some of them seriously to the point where they will never be well again,” Bruce Davidson — a Walkerton vicim — told the Times-Journal.
“We need to bear that in mind, that these are the consequences of failing to protect our drinking water.”
Davidson will be the the keynote speaker at Kettle Creek Conservation Authority’s annual general meeting. A resident of Walkerton, which captured the nation’s eye in 2000 after E coli bacteria seeped into the drinking water killing seven and making thousands ill, Davidson has spent the twelve years since advocating for safe drinking water.
His presentation comes about a month before Kettle Creek staff plan to unveil their source protection draft plan for public comment. The plan is meant to guide conservation authorities and area municipalities in identifying drinking water risks and putting policies in place to reduce those risks.
One part of Davidson’s presentation will be outlining the positive strides taken since the Walkerton tragedy. Municipalities across the country have drafted their own source protection plans and, in addition, Davidson notes properly trained staff handling the water; more qualified and through inspectors and even improved testing processes, all of which have contributed to those improvements.
“There was a complete systemic breakdown that caused our tragedy (in Walkerton) but, if you look at the improvements, they are massive and they are very, very critical to provision of safe drinking water,” he adds.
Kettle Creek spokesman Luiza Moczarski says Davidson was a perfect fit for the message they want to deliver because of his experiences both as an advocate and victim of tainted water.
She adds water issues are underrepresented and a lot of people aren’t aware or don’t care enough to do their part to both keep the water clean and conserve it.
“It doesn’t just involve the municipalities or the conservation authorities, it’s important to everyone,” she stresses.
Davidson adds — while the Walkerton tragedy becomes more distant with each passing day — the messages learned from the tragedy will remain relevant.
“It’s a completely preventable tragedy and, as Walkerton falls further into the rear view mirror, its really important to make sure that people are aware this is a precious resource that we’ve been gifted with, but it is a vulnerable one if we’re not careful,” he advises.
The public is welcome to attend the annual general meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the CASO station, however space is limited to about 100 seats. Interested attendees are encouraged to contact Kettle Creek at 519-631-1270 ext. 224 to reserve a place.