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Brockton's Water Story

In May, 2000 one of Walkerton's wells became contaminated with  bacteria including, Escherichia coli. Many people continue to deal with the impacts of this event, every day.

This was a tragic period for the residents of the Town of Walkerton and our surrounding, close knit, community. Our recovery has brought our community closer together. Over the past 15 years, our community has successfully changed Walkerton's water legacy from that of water infamy to that of water excellence. 

In 2004 the Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC) was established in Walkerton as an agency of the Government of Ontario. The Centre's role is to safeguard drinking water for the people of Ontario and to provide high quality training, applied research, and demonstration technologies to operators and water suppliers. 

The Municipality of Brockton has chosen to honour the legacy of those affected by this tragedy by making Brockton and the town of Walkerton a centre of excellence in Ontario's water sector. Building on the role of the WCWC we have set our sights on raising drinking water standards and demonstrating leading water-related research a significant part of our economic future.

In 2012, Millier Dickinson Blais Inc. prepared two reports, Brockton Water Technologies Report and the Brockton Technologies Incubator Report and the Walkerton Open Water Systems Initiatives Working Group (WOWSI) was established to oversee the work of bringing innovative water businesses and technologies to Walkerton. 

This page outlines the following key opportunities and strengths:

 

Economic Opportunities

Brockton has access to a range of natural heritage and environmental resources that form the basis of a community-supported "open-innovation ecosystem" within the water sector, helping researchers bring new environmental tools and technologies out of the laboratory and into the real world.

  • Brockton's agricultural and rural roots position it well to support activities related to drinking water monitoring and rural and private servicing on residential and employment lands.
  • Brockton's proximity to Lake Huron/Georgian Bay, as well as major rivers and tributaries in the Grand River and Saugeen River watersheds, offers opportunities to support research in areas like climate change and source water protection as well as studies of fresh water ecosystem biodiversity.
  • Brockton is located near to a number of assets that drive research, commercialization, and business development in the sector, including post-secondary institutions, researchers, and commercialization organizations in southern Ontario with a focus on areas like clean technology and water technology.
  • Brockton has connections to existing and potential markets for water technology as well as a broader national discourse in the water technology sector through the Walkerton Clean Water Centre.
  • Brockton provides access to a highly dynamic natural environment with constantly changing variables and varied natural environmental systems that can support testing and demonstration of virtually any new technology.
  • Brockton offers the opportunity to build additional physical spaces and programs that can support the expansion of the sector beyond training and monitoring capabilities.
  • Brockton can be an environment that encourages local and international companies and researchers to test their theories, and develop new technologies.
  • Brockton offers a frequently changing natural and institutional environment, providing new opportunities to test, market, and collaborate on new technologies.

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Walkerton Clean Water Centre

Walkerton benefits from the Walkerton Clean Water Centre serving as an anchor for the sector.

This state-of-the-art facility has the capacity for water technology research and offers training courses for water operators focused on treating and distributing safe drinking water, operation of small drinking water systems, and entry-level training for drinking water operators, as well as training through the Centre's Mobile Training Units (MTUs).

The training facilities have led to a steady stream of operators coming through the centre throughout the year.

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Education, Training and Research Capacity

The sector-related education, training and research programs available within Walkerton and the larger southern Ontario region form the key element of the area's value proposition.

The Walkerton Clean Water Centre is the dominant local advantage. Hands-on training programs for municipal and First Nations community water systems operators are available at the WCWC. Training systems include conventional and advanced water treatment systems, monitoring and control instruments, a distribution system and numerous types of operating devices such as valves and pumps.

Post-secondary students from Ontario's colleges and universities can also attend water related program training.

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Future Areas of Focus

Ontario Centres of Excellence

OCEs have a history of supporting water sector projects in several discrete research areas, including wastewater treatment, drinking water treatment, stormwater management, and source water protection.

Future synergies with OCE would include OCE providing assistance with commercialization or with the water cluster providing assistance to the sector as an incubator or demonstration site.

Training and Education

The water cluster will be able to leverage the existing strengths in education and training available at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre. The cluster will build on this expertise and offer new areas of training to assist local businesses within the cluster in operating new technologies developed across Ontario and by researchers within the cluster.

The Centre also has an opportunity to assist with the development of a workforce skilled in the new technologies that may be available to businesses across Ontario and across the globe.

Digital Systems and Education

More sophisticated water systems have created a need for more sophistication in the data systems that manage the treatment, distribution, and collection of water across urban and rural areas.

Walkerton has an opportunity to build programming and expertise around this emerging area of activity at the convergence of water systems and information communications technology (ICT), particularly in mapping, measurement, modelling, and monitoring. This will place the Walkerton water sector at the leading edge of the larger water sector in Ontario.

Integration of ICT with the water sector creates potential for new businesses and entrepreneurs to develop more sector-specific niche ICT solutions for businesses and municipalities.

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