First Nation Water
OVERDUE LIFTING OF LONG-TERM WATER ADVISORIES IN THREE FIRST NATION COMMUNITES
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by Cori Marshall
The federal government has undertaken the task of ending all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems in First Nations communities by March 2021. It was part of that plan that three systems in Miawpukek, Webequie, and Sachigo Lake were due to be removed from the list of long-term DWAs last month. These three communities, however, are still under a DWA.
We contacted Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to inquire as to why the communities still did not have access to clean water.
We were informed by Edith Pedneault, ISC Media Relations, that the DWA in Miawpukek "will be resolved in June 2018." She explained that "the commissioning of the system and flushing of the main line was delayed due to unforeseen computer and operational issues." The problems "were only detected when undertaking system repairs/upgrades and attempting to restart the water plant," Pedneault said.
The timeline for removing Webequie from the list of long-term DWAs is slightly different from that of Miawpukek. Pedneault said that it is expected to "be resolved in May 2018." All repair work has been done, the reason why this community is still under a DWA is related to "delays in the process of water sampling and testing."
Pedneault underlined that ISC "is working with the First Nation and the Tribal Hub to complete sampling and testing."
Pedneault said that there have been "difficulties in sourcing and bringing parts into [Sachigo Lake]," that is why there has been a "delay in the project." Due to these delays, the project is anticipated to be "resolved in June 2018."
Addressing the amount of long-term DWAs in First Nations communities is going to take time and money, which the government has invested. There have been setbacks, as we have seen with these three communities. Despite the delays, Pedneault said that the federal government "is on track to meet its commitment.