The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) recently completed the first phase of a water well sampling program that was co-designed with local community members. This unique participatory process provides local residents with assurance that their water will be carefully safeguarded and helps landowners and the NWMO better understand water resources and water quality in the area around the potential deep geological repository site for used nuclear fuel in South Bruce.
The NWMO understands the importance of water and the need to protect it for generations to come. It is at the core of what we do and a shared commitment with Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
As part of that shared commitment, the NWMO has several water and environmental research projects underway in the South Bruce region that were co-designed with the community to help us all better understand water and the environment in the area.
“All our water systems are connected, and understanding those connections and how water flows through the environment is the first step in being able to protect it,” says Joanne Jacyk, Manager, Environment Program at the NWMO, who talks more about her work in a video about water protection.
“Before this program, there was very little data on the local watersheds in South Bruce, so we worked with the community to design an environmental monitoring program that will create a base of knowledge and an understanding of how the watershed is functioning and evolving.”
Water was collected from wells on 10 properties near the proposed deep geological repository site and analyzed by a third-party laboratory to establish baseline conditions in private wells.
Initial results of the well testing are positive, showing water quality is generally within provincial guidelines. Full details have been shared with each participating landowner. In response to community feedback, the NWMO is expanding the program to include more properties and offering landowners the option to select their own qualified water consultant and laboratories to collect the samples and conduct the testing.
Landowners participating in this program will have the option to join the NWMO’s sampling program or be reimbursed for the cost of using their own consultant. They will also have the option of sharing their results with the NWMO and earn a $200 incentive and the opportunity to participate in the future phases of the sampling.
“It’s important that as many people as possible take part in this and our other environmental testing programs so we can build up a solid baseline of data near the potential repository site and in the broader community,” says Ms. Jacyk. “We know a lot of people will be closing off their wells for the winter soon, but we’re hoping to get more people involved before that happens.”
In addition to the well sampling program, the NWMO has also been conducting surface water quality and hydrology studies since summer 2021. Data collected in those studies will be shared with the community and be peer reviewed by independent experts. These programs will then be reviewed and adapted based on scientific findings and community input.
This co-designed environmental work will inform decision-making for the potential siting and construction of a deep geological repository in South Bruce, if the area is selected to host Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel. The site is one of two in Ontario currently under consideration.
The data from this research is made available and can help support future conservationists or anyone interested in learning more about how they can safeguard local lands, water sources and animal habitats.
To hear more from Ms. Jacyk about the NWMO’s work to study and protect water resources and her personal commitment to water protection, visit www.nwmo.ca/water.
For more information about the environmental baseline monitoring program, including how to take part in the well water testing program, interested residents can contact the NWMO South Bruce Office at 519.392.6966 or email email@example.com.
About the NWMO
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is a not-for-profit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel inside a deep geological repository, in a manner that protects people and the environment for generations to come.
Founded in 2002, the NWMO has been guided for 20 years by a dedicated team of world-class scientists, engineers and Indigenous Knowledge Holders that are developing innovative and collaborative solutions for nuclear waste management. Canada’s plan will only proceed in an area with informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it. The NWMO plans to select a site in 2024, and two areas remain in our site selection process: the Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario.