First Nation Water
LAST LONG-TERM BWA IN ALBERTA FIRST NATIONS TO END SOON
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The last long-term boil water advisory (BWA) among First Nation communities in Alberta will soon be put to an end.
The project is part of the Federal Government's commitment to end all long term BWA's in First Nation communities by March 2021. Currently, there are 73 long term BWA's across the country, and 587 projects currently underway.
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) announced on August 27 that work has begun on the new water treatment plant in Kehewin Cree Nation.
The community has a population of over 1100 and is located 31 kilometres southwest of Bonnyville Alberta and 235 kilometres east of Edmonton.
The community has been under long-term BWA - which is defined as a BWA that has lasted for one year - since April 23, 2012. The current water treatment plant has been in place since the 1970's and can no longer adequately treat water.
Kehewin Lake, the community's source of drinking water, is contaminated by human activities including agriculture and industry. Blue green algae in the lake is also cause for concern as the toxins potentially produced by the algae cannot be boiled out.
People or animals that swim in or drink water contaminated with harmful algae blooms may experience skin irritation, allergic responses, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues or even liver failure.
The province of Alberta routinely monitors lakes for the presence of microcystin, one of the toxins produced by blue green algae. According to Health Canada, microcystin has been found in an average of 75% and as many as 96% of water bodies in the province.
MP for Edmonton Centre Randy Boissonnault visited Kehewin Cree Nation on behalf of ISC Minister Jane Philpott to participate in the official sod turning ceremony.
"This milestone reflects our shared commitment to building critical infrastructure and improving access to safe and reliable drinking water for First Nation communities across the country", said Minister Philpott in a statement.
Present at the sod turning ceremony, Chief Brenda Vanguard said "I thank the current Liberal government, for their commitment on making this day a reality. Our members have been patiently waiting for something as simple as clean water for too long."
She continued, "our community has been on a boiled-water advisory for more than 11 years and the old treatment plant is no longer a viable option. So today marks the first step in a longer journey of partnership and a moment of renewed relationships."
ISC is providing funds of $13.9 million for the construction of the new treatment plant which should be supplying the community with fresh drinking water by March 2020.
Those funds are part of a larger investment from Budget 2018 of $172.6 million over three years to improve water infrastructure and drinking water quality across First Nations communities.
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