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First Nations drinking water advisories lifted and added with new year underway

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Recently for Canadian First Nation reserves, two short-term and one long-term drinking water advisory were lifted, while the status of three ongoing drinking water advisories was downgraded to long-term.

Ontario’s Lac Seul First Nation lifted a long-term drinking water advisory from the Kejick Bay water treatment plant on January 7, 2020. The drinking water advisory, in effect since February 2003, was lifted after the completion of a new water treatment plant in the community.

Little Red River Cree Nation in Alberta lifted a short-term drinking water advisory from their John D’Or Prairie Public Water System on December 4. The drinking water advisory had been in effect since September, but was lifted following planned system maintenance.

“First Nations and the Government of Canada continue to work in partnership to lift the remaining long-term drinking water advisories on reserves,” announced Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, in a statement to media. “The hard work on short-term advisories is also an essential part of our goal to expand access to clean and safe drinking water. I’m glad that during December, two short-term drinking water advisories were lifted in a timely manner, therefore ensuring that more communities have access to safe drinking water,” he added.

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Saskatchewan’s Wahpeton Dakota Nation lifted a short-term drinking water advisory from their Wahpeton Dakota Nation Public Water System on December 19. The drinking water advisory had been in effect since March 6, 2019, but was lifted following improvements to the water treatment plant’s operations and monitoring.

Since November of 2015, 148 short-term drinking water advisories have been lifted before becoming long-term, according to Indigenous Services Canada.

A drinking water advisory in Manitoba’s Shamattawa First Nation became long-term in December after being in place for more than 12 months. The advisory was put in place in December 2018 due to mechanical and operational issues with the water treatment infrastructure. Indigenous Services Canada said it continues to work in partnership with the First Nation to identify and implement a short-term solution. Plans to expand and upgrade the public water system for the long-term needs of the community are currently in early stages.

A drinking water advisory in Ontario’s Chippewas of Nawash First Nation also became long-term on January 21, 2020. The advisory was put in place in January 2019 due to inadequate treatment and disinfection systems. Indigenous Services Canada is currently working with the First Nation to advance the detailed design phase for the construction of a new water treatment plant and upgrades to the distribution system. The First Nation has hired an engineering consultant to begin that work, as well as to examine options for an interim solution that would see the drinking water advisory resolved soon.

In total, 574 water and wastewater projects have either been initiated or completed since Budget 2016. These projects include new, upgraded or repaired infrastructure, and feasibility and design studies to ensure First Nations have the right infrastructure systems in place for growing communities. To date, 265 projects have been completed and another 309 are underway that benefit 606 First Nations communities across Canada, officials report.

Canada’s Budget 2019 committed an additional $739 million over five years, beginning in 2019-2020, with $184.9 million per year to support urgent repairs to vulnerable water and wastewater systems and the operations and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nations communities.

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