Kuhnke appointed chair of region’s drinking water source protection committee

BROCKTON – Carl Kuhnke has just received word of his appointment by David Piccini, minister of the environment, conservation and parks, as chair of the Saugeen, Grey Sauble and Northern Bruce Peninsula Drinking Water Source Protection Committee.

“It’s a huge region,” Kuhnke said.

Kuhnke is former head of the Walkerton Clean Water Centre and current member of municipal council, as well as being president and CEO of the Owen Sound Transportation Company.

In his time at WCWC, he had a good relationship with Piccini, he said.

Kuhnke noted that at the WCWC, “it was all about technology” – treating the water to make it safe to drink. Source protection is different, in that the focus is on the water that goes into the plants, he said – preventing any contamination of the source.

Kuhnke said source protection stems directly from the water crisis in Walkerton, and the recommendations of the O’Connor Inquiry.

As stated on the ministry website, “The Clean Water Act, 2006 includes provisions for the establishment of source protection committees, which are responsible for leading source protection planning in watersheds across the province.”

A source protection committee is made up of representatives from watershed stakeholder groups (municipal, agriculture, landowners, industry, and environmental non-government organizations) and members of the public. The committee works with municipalities, conservation authorities and provincial agencies.

The minister appoints the chair, after considering any recommendations from the source protection authority, or the leading source protection authority if the committee is for a region.

Kuhnke said his first source protection committee meeting is March 31.

Council heard a presentation on March 7 about Drinking Water Source Protection from Carl Seider – program manager.

The presentation included a quote from Justice Dennis O’Connor: “I recommend a source protection system that includes a strong planning component… at the watershed level.”

Seider was accompanied by John Fruin – municipal sector representative on the committee, and Jennifer Stephens – Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times