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News Contamination Water Issues
Federal government provides update on First Nations drinking water advisories


March 17, 2021
By Ground Water Canada

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Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario – The federal government has provided an update on drinking water advisories on reserve in First Nations.

As of March 10, 2021, 101 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted. This means that since November 2015, clean water access has been restored to approximately 5,850 homes and 430 community buildings in 73 First Nations communities.

While 58 long-term advisories remain in 38 communities, project teams continue their work. Information on each community’s progress can be found on new and updated web pages at https://www.canada.ca/water-on-reserve.

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Resolving short-term advisories before they become long-term is also an important part of the overall work to eliminate long-term drinking water advisories. Since November 2015, 175 short-term drinking water advisories (advisories lasting between two and 12 months) have been lifted before becoming long-term.

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, First Nations, with support from Indigenous Services Canada, have lifted 13 long-term drinking water advisories in the past 12 months, improving access to clean water for more than 1000 homes and 65 community buildings including schools, health facilities and band offices. During that same period, 24 short-term drinking water advisories were also lifted, preventing them from becoming long term issues, restoring reliable access to clean drinking water for hundreds more homes on reserves.

The government has committed over $3.5 billion in funding to achieving clean drinking water on reserves since 2015. This includes $616.3 million over six years, and $114.1 million per year ongoing thereafter, to provide a stable and predictable source of funding for operations and maintenance costs, ensuring longer life cycles and more durable systems, and enabling First Nations to better maintain their water and wastewater infrastructure over the long-term.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, with Indigenous communities facing even greater challenges,” said Marc Miller, minister of Indigenous services. “While the pandemic has also impacted construction work and project deadlines, we remain committed to ending all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserves and improving access to safe drinking water. We will not stop until this work is done.”

Progress on lifting long-term drinking water advisories

On March 9, Indigenous Services Canada celebrated the 100th and 101st lifts in Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum and Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government.

It recognized the achievements realized through close collaboration with the following communities:

  • On Jan. 23, 2021, Black Lake First Nation (Saskatchewan) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since April 2013. Upgrades and expansion of the water treatment plant have improved access to clean drinking water for over 190 homes and 6 community buildings including the school, fire hall and band office.
  • On Dec. 23, 2021, Lake Manitoba (Manitoba) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since June 2019. Connection of a new well has resulted in better access to clean drinking water for everyone who uses the Jordan’s Principle Building.
  • On Nov. 9, 2020, Mishkeegogamang Ojibway Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since October 2019. Repairs to the water system and improved operations have enabled improved access to clean drinking water for 75 homes and 6 community buildings.
  • On Sept. 30, 2020, Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since January 2017. Over 100 homes and 15 community buildings now have access clean, reliable water through a connection to the City of Kenora’s water system.
  • On Sept. 30, 2020, Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since February 2019. Upgrades and repairs to their water system have enable improved access to clean drinking water for 40 homes and 7 community buildings.
  • On Sept. 30, 2020, Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since September 2002. Interim upgrades to the water system has restored access to clean water for 25 homes and 5 community buildings.
  • On Sept. 25, 2020, Fort Severn First Nation (Ontario) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since February 2019. As a result of repairs to the water distribution system and improvements to water quality monitoring, over 90 homes and 6 community buildings now have better access to clean drinking water.
  • On Sept. 23, 2020, Grassy Narrows First Nation (Ontario) lifted the last remaining long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since June 2014. Upgrades to the water treatment system have brought clean drinking water to over 200 homes and 16 community buildings. All residents in the community now have access to clean drinking water.
  • On Sept. 10, 2020, Kehewin Cree Nation (Alberta) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since April 2011. A new water treatment plant and upgrades to water infrastructure have improved access to clean drinking water for over 300 homes homes and 11 community buildings. With this lift, no long-term drinking water advisories are currently in effect on public systems on reserves in Alberta.
  • On Aug. 28, 2020, Bonaparte (British Columbia) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in place since February 2006. All five homes in the community are connected to a new water treatment plant and have access to clean drinking water.
  • On July 30, 2020, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation (Manitoba) lifted a long-term drinking water advisory that had been in effect since April 2014. A new water treatment plant provides clean drinking water to over 40 homes and 7 community buildings.
  • Between March 1, 2020 and March 3, 2021, eleven long-term drinking water advisories were added and two long-term drinking water advisories were de-activated.