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12 YEARS LATER, CLEAN WATER IS FINALLY ON THE HORIZON FOR SHOAL LAKE
On Friday, September 6, 2019, The Hon. Bob Nault,( Kenora Riding); Minister of Indigenous Services, The Hon. Seamus O’Regan; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister, Dan Vandal and Shoal lake 40 Chief Erwin Redsky, participated in a ground breaking ceremony. The ceremony celebrated the contract award for construction of a new water treatment and distribution system that will end 12 years of long-term drinking water advisories by bringing a reliable supply of safe clean drinking water to 292 residents.
Shoal Lake is the water supply source for the City of Winnipeg. Until the recent completion (June 3, 2019) of Freedom Road, Shoal Lake 40’s access to the mainland was cut off for 100 years by Winnipeg’s water infrastructure located on their reserve. Never having had one centralized water treatment system to service the entire community, the First Nation’s water system currently consists of 12 pump houses. This is not adequate water treatment to applicable standards.
WaterToday reached out to the office of the Hon. Bob Nault, and was provided with the following statement via email: “Every Canadian, regardless of where they live, deserves access to clean, safe drinking water.” The Government of Canada is working with First Nations communities to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public reserves by March 2021.
Nault’s statement continues that this is “a significant milestone as community members of Shoal Lake 40 will soon be able to drink the water from their taps. Building on the momentum from the completion of Freedom Road, today’s announcement is yet another step in the right direction for Shoal Lake 40 and on the path to reconciliation.”
WT also reached out to Indigenous Services Canada and received an email statement from Chief Erwin Redsky. “Building on the success of Freedom Road, the awarding of the construction contract for our new water treatment system continues our work with willing partners to correct past wrongs in the spirit of reconciliation.”
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is contributing up to $33 million for the project including a water treatment plant, reservoir, raw water intake and lift station. Construction of the new water treatment system is anticipated to be completed by December 2020. Additionally, ISC will invest $605.6 million over 4 years to support the operations and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nations communities. The investment includes an additional $184.9 million each year thereafter for operations and maintenance of First Nations’ community water and wastewater assets funded by the Government of Canada.
Shoal Lake 40 straddles the Ontario-Manitoba border 55 kilometres west of Kenora and a short distance south of the TransCanada Highway. Freedom Road, which opened June 3, 2019, provides residents with year-round access to the TransCanada Highway.
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