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B.C. ends last First Nations long-term water advisory

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The Semiahmoo First Nation had been under the advisory since October 13, 2005. Now, officials have restored reliable access to clean drinking water for all community households, including 31 homes and six community buildings. Photo Credit: City of White Rock

British Columbia has reached the milestone of clearing every long-term water advisory in its First Nation communities, now that Semiahmoo First Nation has been connected to the municipal water system in nearby Surrey.

As of March 31, B.C. has zero active long-term drinking water advisories affecting their public water system. Since November 2015, First Nation communities have lifted 20 long-term drinking water advisories from public systems on B.C. reserves.

The Semiahmoo First Nation had been under the advisory since October 13, 2005. Now, officials have restored reliable access to clean drinking water for all community households, including 31 homes and six community buildings. Work to connect the community to Surrey’s water system included remediating and reconstructing a road to enable new water and sewer pipes to be installed.

Indigenous Services Canada made the B.C. announcement last week to recognize the accomplishment, after failing to meet its overall March 2021 target to end all long-term boil water advisories on First Nation reserves.

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There are 193 First Nation reserves in B.C.

Drinking water advisories can be required due to problems in the water system, such as line breaks, equipment failure and poor filtration or disinfection during water treatment.

The second last advisory lifted in B.C. applied to Wet’suwet’en First Nation. In place since March 13, 2012, the advisory was lifted on March 18, 2021, after interim upgrades were made to the existing water treatment plant to address elevated arsenic levels for 25 homes and six community buildings. Indigenous Services Canada said it is supporting the community to implement a long-term water solution, including new wells and a new water treatment plant currently underway.

A new website launched earlier this year allows users to track elements such as construction progress for water projects on reserves.

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