BC, Manitoba First Nations set for major water infrastructure upgrades

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Provincial and federal investments are supporting water and wastewater treatment system upgrades for First Nation communities in Manitoba and British Columbia.

For the B.C. Haida Nation community, who occupy Haida Gwaii, an archipelago just off the coast, a new $20-million investment will improve wastewater capacity and quality for the residents of Daajing Giids, while reducing the impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

Local officials estimate that more than 400,000 litres of raw sewage come from the Village of Daajing Giids’ effluent discharge point in Bearskin Bay every day, according to village council documents.

The provincial investment will enhance access and reopen closed harvesting areas for fishing and shellfish aquaculture development under the 2021 GayG̱ahlda “Changing Tide” framework agreement. The Haida Nation, the federal government, and the province, committed to coordinating efforts on ocean protection, marine resources and marine management. 

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Haida Nation President Gaagwiis, also known as Jason Alsop, said all of the surrounding communities will benefit from the new funding. Additionally, Haida Gwaii will be one step closer to transitioning from diesel-generated electricity to 100% renewable power generation following the completion of the Tll Yahda energy project near Sandspit Airport. This will be accomplished through an $8.5-million investment from B.C.

“The community of Sandspit welcomes this very important investment in our community and in a clean-energy future,” announced Evan Putterill, vice-chair and director of Electoral Area E in the North Coast Regional District. “As a coastal community 21 feet above sea level, we are very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and every step away from fossil fuels matters. We are also very happy for our neighbours in Daajing Giids who have been waiting decades for a sewer [sic] treatment plant.”

Also in B.C., the province has provided $4 million to replace approximately 1,400 metres of pipe in the Songhees Nation sewer system. The project will also include the installation of new maintenance holes, catch basins, sewer-inspection chambers and sanitary-service connections.

Renewal of the aging sewer system will reduce the volume of wastewater that needs to be treated locally.

“This much-needed renewal of aging infrastructure will help improve the efficient removal of wastewater and decrease costs for people who rely on this system,” announced Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, in a statement.

Moving east to the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, the federal Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund will invest $12 million to build a new water treatment plant for the Manitoba community. 

After about one year of construction, the new plant will connect more residences to piped water and service 2,400 people, with the capacity to expand service up to 4,000.

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation has hired Associated Engineering for pre-design, which is nearly complete. The larger facility will provide safe and reliable water for the community’s rising requirements and the UV primary disinfection improves water safety and compliance.

“Our existing water treatment system cannot support our community’s expected population and expansion areas,” announced Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Chief, Jennifer Bone, in a statement. “Our residents need a modern water treatment plant to get safe and reliable water. We want all houses and businesses to be connected to the new plant’s piped water.”

Friesen Drillers hydrogeological drilling and testing confirmed greater municipal water supply capacity, assuring the new facility will satisfy flow requirements. Groundwater samples also showed quality fresh water, said local officials.

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