NWMO launches expanded water well sampling in South Bruce reflective of community input

Original post via the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has begun its water well sampling program in South Bruce, Ont., a first step in implementing our environmental baseline monitoring program, which was co-designed with the municipality.

This program will provide residents with assurance that their water will be carefully safeguarded, and help landowners and the NWMO better understand water resources and water quality in South Bruce around the potential repository site. It is designed to evaluate the baseline conditions in private well drinking water sources near NWMO-owned and -optioned lands.

The program, which involves participating local landowners having water from their wells collected and analyzed by Tulloch Environmental, a third-party organization under NWMO contract, was recently expanded to include more wells and sample parameters based on community input from South Bruce.

“Water does not just support local industries like agriculture; it supports life itself,” says Joanne Jacyk, Section Manager of Environmental Assessment at the NWMO. “We understand how important it is to the residents and rights holders. That is why we are working to protect it – and the environment – for the very long term.”

The co-designed environmental work will inform decision-making for the potential siting and construction of a deep geological repository in South Bruce, should the area be selected to host Canada’s plan. We are committed to working with communities, including Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, to provide long-term safety and protection of the environment, including precious water resources.

Through the environmental baseline monitoring program, the NWMO and local residents will learn more about the local environment as a whole: surface water, groundwater, air, soil, plants, and animals and their habitats around the potential repository site and the surrounding region.

“We wanted to co-create this program because we understand just how important protecting the environment, particularly water resources, is,” continued Ms. Jacyk. “This water well sampling program will help us understand the current baseline conditions near the potential repository site and addresses some of the questions we have heard from local community members.”

Initial community workshops began in August 2020, where the NWMO met with local residents to understand priorities, questions and concerns about their local environment. Since then, a second set of workshops were held to present the proposed co-designed program for feedback to maintain accountability to the community.

This water well sampling program is a next step in an ongoing process of environmental monitoring and stewardship. Depending on the well location and results of the initial well sampling, certain wells may be deemed suitable for long-term monitoring to determine baseline conditions.

It follows a partnership the NWMO formed locally to improve local water quality. In late 2020, the NWMO partnered with a local organization (Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority) to offer a Water Well Improvement Program to the residents within the watershed. This program offers funding to support landowners in properly decommissioning or upgrading water wells, which will help improve the quality of local groundwater.

Interested landowners near the potential repository site can contact the NWMO to learn more about participating in the environmental baseline monitoring program.

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