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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



This story is brought to you in part by Borrum Energy Solutions

A small community in the Northwest Territories has been under a boil water advisory since 2004 due to staffing issues and infrastructure maintenance.

Colville Lake is located over 700km northwest of Yellowknife and is the smallest community in the Sahtu region, with just over 120 predominantly First Nations inhabitants.

The band that make the area their home, the Behdzi Ahda' First Nations, have had issues with staff turnover at their water treatment plant and the proper testing that needs to be administered is often behind as a result.

Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) for the Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) is responsible for helping the community remedy their issues.

"There are numerous employees within the community works staff that have been trained by MACA staff, however the turnover is high," said Damien Healy, the manager of communication for Health and Social Services (HSS) for GNWT in an email response to questions posed by this reporter, "The MACA circuit rider frequents the community to train new staff when they are hired.".

The training is provided to the community free of charge and Water and Sewer funding provided by MACA allows for extra training and professional development as well.

As this isn't a budgetary issue, no federal funding is imminent.

The water treatment plant is relatively new, having been built only nine years ago, however upkeep has been an issue with new employees coming and going so quickly.

"There have been historical issues with care and maintenance of the facility despite the efforts of MACA staff," said Healy, "When fully operational the Colville Lake Water Treatment Plant is capable of meeting the Canadian guidelines for drinking water quality.".

Healy said that even though the plant is only nine years old is still needs some TLC and maintenance.

While the advisory is ongoing, drinking water is being provided to the community via trucked services.

According to Healy, the water has been chlorinated; but since is not being routinely tested to ensure safety, the boil water advisory still applies to the trucked water too.

"When the community can ensure routine drinking water testing as per the Public Health Act, and specifically the Water Supply System Regulations (Schedule for Testing), the precautionary boil water advisory can be lifted by the Chief Public Health Officer," said Healy.

Multiple attempts to reach a community representative to comment on the issue were unsuccessful as of publication.

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