First Nation water
PAQTNKEK MI'KMAW NATION ON WATER SHORTAGE UNTIL END OF AUGUST
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by Michelle Moore
The Mi'kmaw community of Paqtnkek has been on a water shortage for two weeks. Residents have been asked to use water sparingly until further notice.
Paqtnkek Mi'kmaw Nation has a population of just over 500 people and is located in Antigonish County, 24 kilometres east of Antigonish in northeastern Nova Scotia. The name comes from the phrase by the bay, indicating its proximity to St. Georges Bay in the Bayfield area to the north.
Divided by the construction of the TransCanada Highway in the 1960's, the community has been splintered, with residents and businesses located on either side. But now the community is building a $15 million interchange that will change that.
The new interchange will connect both north and south sides directly to the highway in hopes of unifying the community and bringing economic revitalization. With that, Paqtnkek will be better placed to update dated infrastructure that has caused boil water advisories in the past.
Ironically however, for the moment the road construction has impeded the community's access to water. On July 3rd residents were notified of the effect the construction would have on water pressure in the Petow area of the reserve.
The statement read "the water line must be drained, connected to the new line and then re-filled and tested. We hope it will be completed in one day. We regret any inconvenience that this may cause."
The next day, community officials notified residents of the serious water crisis on the main side of the reserve. The notice said that despite efforts to conserve water, they were not able to meet the current demand.
The notice instructed those living in that area to not fill outdoor pools, use outdoor hoses, or wash vehicles. In addition, they asked that residents use showers and flush toilets minimally, and report any dripping faucets or running toilets to the band office immediately.
Well Number 1 in the Petow area has very low water pressure and must be used as little as possible until the reservoir can be repaired. Members of the community have been trucking in water from a nearby river.
By July 9 community officials released a new statement advising residents that "the well on the main reserve side isn't producing the amount of water it needs to fully recover. Folks in Petow will have to reduce the amount of water used in order to repair and modify the well in Petow."
It continued, "this water has to hold us over until repairs and modifications can be made ... at this point the water is safe for consumption and we are putting all of our efforts and financial support in maintaining the availability of water for all community members.
The statement further specifies that the notice will remain active until the end of August.