Three long-term drinking water advisories lifted, one added, for First Nations in October

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Upgrades were made to the pump house and an ultraviolet disinfection system was installed to restore clean water to the Alexis Creek First Nation for the first time in nearly a decade. Photo Credit: Alexis Creek First Nation

In October 2018, three long-term drinking water advisories were lifted — one of which had been approaching a decade — and one long-term advisory was added, relating to public systems on First Nations reserves, announced Indigenous Services Canada.

In its latest statement, the federal government said it “remains steadfast and on track” in its commitment to ending all long-term drinking water advisories on First Nations public systems on reserves by March 2021.

“Three long-term advisories were lifted, with 74 having now been lifted since November 2015. I invite all Canadians to follow progress on the work underway at www.canada.ca/water-on-reserve,” announced Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services.

One long-term drinking water advisory was lifted by Alexis Creek First Nation in British Columbia on October 12. Upgrades were made to the pump house and an ultraviolet disinfection system was installed to restore clean water to the community. The advisory had been in place since April of 1999. Of the long-term advisories lifted since 2015, only Nazko First Nation in B.C. had an advisory in place for a longer period, by only a few months.

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Another long-term drinking water advisory was lifted by Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation in Saskatchewan on October 19, 2018. A filter media was replaced in the water treatment system and training was provided to the plant’s water operators and monitors to restore clean water to the community. The advisory had been in place since July 2017.

A long-term drinking water advisory was also lifted by Lac La Croix in Ontario on October 25. Repairs and upgrades to the water treatment system were completed to restore safe drinking water to the community. The advisory had been in place since February 2017.

Despite the progress on lifting advisories, however, one long-term drinking water advisory was added on October 26 for the Nekaneet Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, meaning an advisory has now been in place for more than a year. Indigenous Services Canada says it’s working with the First Nation to address the issues that led to the advisory. Lifting the advisory is expected to take place in November 2018.

Additionally, two short-term advisories that were at risk of becoming long-term were successfully lifted in October. The community of Deschambault Lake at Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan lifted a short-term advisory on October 23 after a new water treatment plant was commissioned.

Finally, Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation in Saskatchewan lifted a short-term advisory on October 26 following the resolution of operational issues resulting from a power outage.

Seventy-four long-term drinking water advisories have now been lifted on public water systems on reserve since November 2015. Work is already underway to end the remaining 67 long-term advisories and prevent further short-term advisories from becoming long-term.

Quick Facts

  • A drinking water advisory becomes long-term when it has been in place for over a year.
  • There were 105 long-term drinking water advisories on public drinking water systems on reserve in November 2015. As of October 31, 2018, 74 of these advisories have been resolved and 36 have been added. Working in collaboration with First Nations, the Government of Canada has committed to ending all long-term advisories on public systems on reserves by March 2021.
  • Budget 2016 provided $1.8 billion over five years toward water and wastewater infrastructure. These investments have supported 468 water and wastewater projects in 580 First Nations communities, serving 458,000 people.

Budget 2018 provided an additional $172.6 million over three years to help accelerate progress on lifting drinking water advisories and to ensure more infrastructure projects can be completed prior to 2021. Budget 2018 also proposes support for repairs to high risk water systems, recruitment, training and retention initiatives, and the establishment of innovative First Nations-led service delivery models.

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