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Water Today Title November 27, 2020

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Update 2018/5/22
First Nation Water


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by Michelle Moore

On May 16 the Government of Canada and the Huron-Wendat Nation announced the completion of two expansions and renewals of drinking water infrastructure projects for the Wendake Community, an urban reserve in the Québec City region, surrounded by the La Haute-Saint Charles Borough.

The water and wastewater projects were built to meet the needs of the growing community of Wendake, now a population of 1 495 people. The first project will serve a completely new area of the community whereas the other project involved a complete renovation of the existing infrastructure on Chef Max Gros-Louis Street.

The infrastructure renewal project connected the new system to the existing one. Martine Stevens, spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada told this reporter that "the infrastructure on Max Gros-Louis Street has reached the end of its useful life as it has been installed over 50 years ago. The population increase has had a significant impact on the water system."

Canada's Budget 2016 included funds of $1.8 billion over five years to help end long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities. Of that, $14.5 million contributed to the expansion of the drinking water system in Wendake. So far in 2018, 420 water and wastewater projects were initiated by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) on reserves.

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development said in a press release, "I am pleased that these two infrastructure improvement projects have been completed. These drinking water projects will promote the well-being of the residents of Wendake. The leadership of Grand Chief Konrad Sioui and the Huron-Wendat Nation Council has been instrumental in the process."

Waste and wastewater systems funded by ISC are constructed to last 30 years. Pipes used for reparations and expansions are designed to last 50 to 60 years. When asked about its daily operation, Stevens said "the Department also funds the operating and maintenance expenses of these new systems, as well as the Circuit Rider Training Program which supports operators in their daily work."

These projects are part of a larger goal for the Federal Government, to end all long term boil water advisories (BWAs) in First Nations communities by 2021. Of the communities supported by ISC, there are currently 76 long term BWAs, which is one that has been in effect for a year or longer.

Ontario's Shoal Lake 40 has been under long term advisory since February 1998. That means about half of its population is too young to remember ever having had tap water they can drink from. As part of the Liberal Government strategy, a new water treatment plant is underway to be completed by March 2020.

Stevens said the 2018 budget "confirmed its commitment to lift all the drinking water advisories related to the quality of public drinking water systems on reserve by proposing an additional $172.6 million over three years, starting in 2018-2019, to improve access to safe drinking water on reserve."


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