Asvisory of the Day
KASHECHEWAN, ON: KASHECHEWAN TODAY, ON
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Boil water advisories are commonplace for the First Nations community of Kashechewan in Northern Ontario. The most recent BWA was issued by Health Canada on November 23 2016.
Wilma Williams, Associate Director for Kashechewan First Nations, told this reporter it was for equipment malfunction during treatment or distribution but that it had been revoked as of Christmas time
It is still on Health Canada's website
This latest advisory is one more item in a long list of water-related problems this unfortunate community has suffered through
Kashechewan is a town of around 1,700 people located on the Albany River, just 10km upstream from James Bay. Being located on a natural floodplain has proved difficult for residents. Inadequate infrastructure to deal with the regularly occurring deluges often leaves the community in dire straits, with sewage overflowing and many residents being evacuated. Lacking the capital to clean up after the floods, the residents of Kashechewan often suffer effects from the contaminated land and waterways.
Just last year, an outbreak of skin diseases among the children of the community, drew a lot of media attention, as residents posted photos on social media of infants with lesions covering much of their body. In 2005, Kashechewan made national news when high E. coli levels were found in the reserve's drinking water. Local authorities had to increase chlorine input to shock levels, which also resulted in much of the citizens having debilitating skin problems
A water treatment plant which had been built ten years previously, hadn't accounted for the reserve's growing size. In addition, a design flaw resulted in the intake pipe for the new treatment plant being placed downstream from the community's sewage lagoon. As such, tides from nearby James Bay pushed the dirty water back and forth across the intake. Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins and James Bay, believes that the current Federal government has raised expectations of First Nations people with their promises to end Boil Water Advisories in five years while failing to put the resources in place to accomplish that
According to Angus, "If you look at the history of failed water programs, they repeat the same mistake. They overpromise, underfund and bureaucrats end up trying to cut funds on building," adding, "this is a pattern of dysfunction that they never seem to learn from."
He cites the 2005 Kashechewan Water Crisis as a perfect example
A water treatment plant which had been built ten years previously, hadn't accounted for the reserve's growing size. Angus said, "Indian affairs used a housing calculation based on the average municipal standard of 2.5-3.5 people per house, where on a reserve there can be upwards of 15 people per house."
In addition, a design flaw resulted in the intake pipe for the new treatment plant being placed downstream from the community's sewage lagoon. As such, tides from nearby James Bay pushed the dirty water back and forth across the intake. According to a media representative for Health Canada, there is an imminent press event where the government will outline where they're at with their commitment to end boil water advisories in First Nations communities within five years
We will be sure to keep readers updated
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