Seamus O’Regan, minister of indigenous services, provided the department’s monthly progress update on the federal government’s commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories.
“As we move closer to our goal of ending long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves, preventing short-term advisories from becoming long-term takes on greater significance,” said O’Regan. “Working in partnership with First Nations, we will improve access to safe drinking water for years to come. Follow our progress at www.canada.ca/water-on-reserve.”
In May 2019, five short-term drinking water advisories at risk of becoming long-term were lifted from public systems on reserves. One long-term drinking water advisory on a public system on a reserve was added. No long-term drinking water advisories were lifted.
Short-term drinking water advisories lifted before becoming long-term:
- Wapekeka, in Ontario, lifted a short-term advisory from its public water system on May 2, following the successful completion of repairs to the distribution system. The advisory had been in effect since January 15, 2019.
- Montreal Lake, in Saskatchewan, lifted a short-term advisory from the Montreal Lake Public Water System on May 1 following the repair of a line break. The advisory had been in effect since February 15, 2019.
- Little Red River Cree Nation, in Alberta, lifted a short-term advisory from the John D’Or Prairie Public Water Supply on May 3 following an increase of disinfection at that plant to address elevated turbidity in the treated water. The advisory had been in effect since February 26, 2019.
- Acadia, in Nova Scotia, lifted a short-term advisory from the Acadia Gold River Community Building on May 3 following the repair of a waterline and the installation of a new treatment system. The advisory had been in effect since February 19, 2019.
- Fox Lake, in Manitoba, lifted a short-term advisory from the Fox Lake (Bird) Public Water System on May 1 following repairs to the water treatment plant’s pump equipment. The advisory had been in effect since June 12, 2018.
Advisories that reached more than one year in duration and became long-term:
- A drinking water advisory at Standing Buffalo, in Saskatchewan, became long-term on May 9 after being in place for more than 12 months. Operation and maintenance repairs to the existing treatment system have been completed and options to address plant capacity issues or reduce demand are being explored. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) continues to work with the community to complete a long-term recapitalization and capacity expansion of the water treatment plant. These longer-term upgrades are projected to be complete by December 2020.
Through Budget 2016, the Government of Canada committed $1.8 billion over five years to improve water and wastewater infrastructure and set a goal of March 2021 to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves.
The number of long-term drinking water advisories affecting public systems on reserves has declined from 105 in November 2015, to 58 as of May 31, 2019.
Through budget investments in water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves across the country, 505 projects are either underway or have been completed.
First Nations and the Government of Canada will continue this important work to lift the remaining long-term drinking water advisories on public systems, complete the water and wastewater projects underway now, and bridge the gap in essential infrastructure on reserves.