Walkerton, Ont.-based water training facility trains 100,000 Ontarians
It’s hard to think of Walkerton, Ont. without thinking about drinking water. The Bruce County community made international headlines when seven people were killed and thousands fell ill after drinking the town’s E. coli tainted water in May 2000.
In the wake of that tragedy, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC) was built in 2004 to help change the town’s image from one of infamy to excellence, by providing world-class training and research to drinking water operators across the province.
They’ve done that, reaching a major milestone this month -- training 100,000 people on drinking water safety.
“We do have a very accurate count, so it’s not a guess. It is going to happen this month, we’re just not sure exactly what date yet,” says Carl Kuhnke, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre’s CEO.
On average, 10,000 Ontarians are trained through the Walkerton Clean Water Centre each year.
In total, 55 drinking water courses, including the province’s mandatory course for all drinking water operators, are offered.
Kuhnke says their main goal is to ensure another Walkerton E. coli disaster never happens in Ontario again.
“We’ve been in touch with a number of American states, who look at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre and have literally come up here, and say, if only they could put a lasso around this building and take it down to places like Flint, Michigan and Benton Harbour, Michigan, we’d all be in better shape,” says Kuhnke.
Kuhnke says the Walkerton Clean Water Centre is expanding as well, and will soon be able to offer even more specialized drinking water training and research.
“This started out to do something for Ontario, but it has become an international resource, because we do provide advice, with our 24/7 drinking water resource library, to countries as far away as Gambia, Russia and China. It’s not just restricted to Canada."
To mark their 100,000th participant, the WCWC is conducting weekly draws offering a free one-day online training course to four lucky drinking water operators.