NIAGARA FALLS, ON: ONTARIO FIRST NATIONS WATER SYMPOSIUM AIMS TO END ALL BWAS
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by Cori Marshall
The Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC) is currently hosting the 2018 First Nations Water Symposium at the Sheraton on the Falls in Niagara Falls. This year's gathering is under the theme of Tapping into Sustainable Solutions, and has run from Tuesday, May 15 and wraps up today May 16.
Colin French, Communications Officer for the OFNTSC, said that the symposium is a "bi-annual event." He explained that it "intends to bring together Chief and Council, First Nation administrators, directors of public health, public works managers, water and wastewater plant operators with provincial and federal governments along with industry."
"The symposium aims to achieve a reduction of boil water advisories, participation from all tribal councils and First Nations from Ontario," French said. The symposium has the underlying goal of providing "sustainable clean drinking water for [First Nations] communities."
This year's symposium offers 37 different workshops that touch upon diverse topics related to water distribution systems, ranging from chemical and bacteriological tests to extending the life of damaged and corroding structures.
The federal government has made substantial investments in improving First Nation water infrastructure and quality and has committed to ending all long-term drinking water advisories (DWA) in First Nations communities by March 2021.
French said that "currently there are 48 long-term and 13 short-term [DWAs] in effect in Ontario First Nations."
"Progress is being made here, [...] the number of long-term drinking water advisories are currently being reduced," French underlined. There are investments being made in every area of First Nations water from training to technical advising, to ensure "the delivery of safe drinking water."
French asserted that "the urgent need to have clean drinking water in First Nations in Ontario cannot be understated." He added that "with almost a quarter if the First Nations population living in Ontario the need to have clean water is of the utmost importance to the OFNTSC."
The symposium wraps up this afternoon with the closing ceremonies and remarks at 4 PM.