Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, provided Indigenous Services Canada’s monthly update on the progress of removing drinking water advisories.
In February 2020, two short-term advisories were lifted and three long-term advisories were added.
Big Grassy First Nation (Ontario) lifted a short-term drinking water advisory from the Big Grassy Public Water System on February 3, 2020. The advisory, in effect since August 2019, was lifted after the First Nation completed needed repairs to the existing system.
“Taking the necessary steps to resolve short-term advisories before they become long-term is an essential part of our work to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories and improve the health and well-being of Indigenous people across the country,” said Miller. “I am encouraged that two short-term advisories were resolved this month and we will continue to work in partnership with First Nations to end all long-term drinking water advisories on reserves by spring 2021.”
Blood Tribe (Kainai Nation) (Alberta) lifted a short-term drinking water advisory from the Gladstone Community Hall Semi-Public Water System on February 13, 2020. The advisory, in effect since October 2019, was lifted after shock chlorination of the system was completed and follow-up bacteriological water results were satisfactory.
A drinking water advisory in Anishnaabeg of Naongashiing First Nation (Ontario) on the Big Island Public Water System became long-term on February 15, 2020, after being in place for more than 12 months. The advisory was put in place in February 2019 based on an assessment determined that the current water treatment plant does not meet the minimum treatment requirements. With support from ISC, the First Nation is in the process of hiring a qualified design consultant for the upgrades to the existing facility that will resolve this issue.
A drinking water advisory in Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation (Ontario) on the Nigigoonsiminikaaning Public Water System became long-term on February 5, 2020, after being in place for more than 12 months. The advisory was put in place in February 2019 as a precautionary measure while upgrades to the water treatment plant were underway causing a temporary bypass of several steps in the treatment process. The upgrades were completed. However, high turbidity levels, or cloudiness, were found during performance testing. With support from ISC, the First Nation is working with the design consultant, contractor and treatment supplier to identify a solution.
A drinking water advisory in Fort Severn First Nation (Ontario) on the Fort Severn Public Water System became long-term on February 4, 2020, after being in place for more than 12 months. The advisory was put in place in February 2019 due to turbidity, or cloudiness, post-treatment exceeding regulatory requirements, and was extended in the fall of 2019 due to a significant leak in the distribution system. With support from ISC, the First Nation and the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Water and Wastewater Operations Hub have addressed the leaks in the distribution system and are working to stabilize water plant operations and water quality monitoring.
Hundreds of water and wastewater projects on reserves are underway across the country and completing these projects will lead to lifting more advisories as clean, reliable water is restored to First Nations communities.
Since November 2015, 151 short-term drinking water advisories (lasting between two and 12 months) have been lifted before becoming long-term.
In total, 574 water and wastewater projects have been initiated or completed since Budget 2016. These projects include new, upgraded or repaired infrastructure, as well as 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, benefitting 606 First Nations communities across the country.
For the most recent updates on lifting drinking water advisories, visit www.canada.ca/water-on-reserve.