Northwestern Ontario’s Lac Seul First Nation recently celebrated the grand opening of a new water treatment plant in Kejick Bay, ending a 17-year drinking water advisory that has made life challenging for its nearly 1,000 residents.
Indigenous Services Canada invested approximately $4.7 million in support of the long-awaited water treatment plant, which comes after an existing water system no longer met provincial and federal drinking water regulations back in 2003. The Small Communities Fund, Infrastructure Canada and Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure also provided over $3.6 million for the community project.
Construction on the 4,200 ft2 plant began in fall 2018, according to Penn-Co Construction, which states on its website that it used “AdEdge-direct filtration with ion exchange to treat the water.” Penn-Co partnered with architectural firm S. Burnett & Associates Ltd.
Completion of a new water treatment system can take three to four years on average to complete.
“This has been a long and difficult process, however, I am thrilled that the new water treatment plant at Kejick Bay is complete, and that after 17 years members can drink safe, clean water straight from the tap,” announced Lac Seul First Nation Chief E. Derek Maud in a statement to media.
The First Nation is divided into three communities: Frenchman’s Head, Kejick Bay, and Whitefish Bay.
Across Canada since January of 2020, Saskatchewan’s James Smith Cree Nation lifted a short-term drinking water advisory from its public water system that was in effect since September 2019. It was lifted after changing membranes on the water filtration system.
Additionally, a drinking water advisory put in place in January 2019 in Ontario’s Chippewas of Nawash First Nation became long-term in January 2020. The federal government is currently working with the First Nation toward development of a new water treatment plant.
In total, 574 water and wastewater projects have been initiated or completed since Budget 2016. For a full update on the federal government’s progress to reduce First Nations water advisories, click here.