The Black Lake Denesuline First Nation of Saskatchewan faces a $10,000 fine after federal officials discovered some 86,000 litres of wastewater had been released into the community’s lake in 2016.
Black Lake — located in northern Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin region — is home to walleye, yellow perch, northern pike and arctic grayling, and is also the First Nation community’s source for drinking water.
Provincial officials notified Environment and Climate Change Canada of the Black Lake sewage discharge in February of 2016 and an investigation was undertaken.
On April 16, 2021, La Ronge Provincial Court tasked Denesuline officials with several other duties in addition to paying the fine. First, community leaders will need to write a news article about the wastewater discharge for distribution to northern print media outlets. Local officials will also need to develop an up-to-date emergency plan and develop and implement a preventative maintenance plan for their water and wastewater treatment systems.
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Denesuline officials pleaded guilty to one offence under the Fisheries Act. The fine will be directed to Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.
In early 2021, Black Lake Denesuline First Nation was able to lift a boil water advisory that had been in place for seven years due to an ailing water treatment plant. The federal government invested $11 million into the water system in 2016.
Black Lake has a registered membership of 2,151 band members, with 1,315 of these living on reserve.