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Canada lifts, adds long-term drinking water advisory for Ontario First Nations

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The new well and point-of-entry treatment system serve the Wahta’s community and administration centre, which had been under a do not consume advisory. The $2-million centre was built in 1993 in the traditional longhouse form of the Six Nations. Photo Credit: Kingsland + Architects Inc.

Ontario’s Wahta Mohawks, with support from Indigenous Services Canada, has lifted the long-term drinking water advisory in place since September of 2013 for the Muskoka region First Nation.

The advisory ended following the recent construction of a new well and installation of a point-of-entry treatment unit. But a longer-term, more sustainable drinking water solution for the community has yet to be developed, federal officials said.

The new well and point-of-entry treatment system serve the Wahta’s community and administration centre, which had been under a do not consume advisory. The $2-million centre was built in 1993 in the traditional longhouse form of the Six Nations.

“As part of the water treatment system upgrade project at the administration building, a water bottle fill station was installed,” announced community leaders on Facebook.

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Federal officials say projects are underway to address the remaining 53 long-term drinking water advisories in effect in 34 First Nations communities across Canada.

“First Nations communities have now received the first installment of increased operations and maintenance funding,” announced Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services. “These improvements will provide First Nations a predictable funding stream, which will assist them in making strategic plans for their communities. We will not stop until every First Nation has clean water and we will continue to build the foundation for predictable, lasting solutions that support the unique needs of First Nations communities,” added Miller.

In 2017-2018, Wahta water and wastewater operators in the community also received federally funded training. The community has also been involved in the Circuit Rider Training Program to build and retain the capacity to operate, service and maintain their water and wastewater systems.

In addition to the Wahta First Nation, short-term water advisories were recently lifted in three other First Nations communities. First, the Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick was able to lift its boil water advisory for its Mi’gmaq residents. Next, the Hiawatha First Nation ended its boil water advisory for its community church located near the Otonabee River in Ontario. Lastly, the Lac La Croix First Nation on the Ontario-Minnesota border some 200 km northwest of Thunder Bay lifted its boil water advisory this month.

But May also brought a new long-term water advisory issued for Ontario’s Mitaanjigaming First Nation, just north of Fort Frances. However, federal officials say it may not last much more than a month. Upgrades to the existing water distribution and treatment systems have faced substantial delays and problems sourcing the necessary equipment and materials.

Meanwhile, in South Slave communities of the Northwest Territories, the spring ice break up has prompted a boil water advisory in Hay River, Enterprise, Kakisa and K’atl’odeeche First Nation due to muddied water, local officials reported.

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