Drinking Water Advisories: Current Problems

Long-term DWA

June 19, 2022

Fed. Govt., ON

Neskantaga First Nation marks 27 years under a Boil Water Advisory – 10,000 days!

NationTalk: LANDSDOWNE HOUSE, ON – The community of Neskantaga First Nation (NFN) marked today as the 10,000thconsecutive day of being under a Boil Water Advisory (BWA). Causing 27 years of anxiety, frustration, and hardship in the community and a major challenge for the federal government to resolve—the current BWA was first declared on February 1, 1995.  It has caused the community to fully evacuate on two occasions (for 1-3 months at a time) in 2019 and 2020.

“This is not something we are proud of by any means but it is real and happening today in our community,” said Chief Wayne Moonias. “Acknowledging 10,000 days in BWA is impactful in so many ways—there has been so much loss of dignity and lack of trust over this,” he added.

Over the past three years, NFN has been working with Canada to address the root causes to the longest BWA in the country by embarking on some of the following projects:

  • Commissioning an independent report on: (1) the design suitability of the upgraded water treatment plant (WTP), distribution and wastewater system and, (2) the best options for a new WTP and system
  • Commissioning a study to assess NFN’s current water systems and identify options for new systems that are suitable for a 20-Year Community Growth Plan
  • Developing a “What Actually Happened Report?” – this report is an investigation into the aging WTP plant upgrade project and why it went five times over budget and delivered years late
  • Entered into a 5-Year operations, maintenance and training contract with the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) that includes training for NFN members
  • Developing a long-term “Trust in the Taps Navigators” project which is part of a community wellness strategy to help people address trauma caused by the long-term water crisis
  • A project to clean up used water bottle containers in the community

Chief Moonias concluded by saying, “Remote water systems are complicated and sensitive. Everyday, we continue to be on the brink of a complete shutdown. We are hoping that, what we do to address the root causes, will benefit our community in the near future and for generations to come.”

Neskantaga First Nation is situated in Northern Ontario on Attawapiskat Lake, 271 kms north east of Thunder Bay, Ontario. It is a remote community accessible only by air or winter ice-road. It has over 500+ band members.

November 26, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Oneida Water Distribution System

Toronto Star/ Ryerson School of Journalism: The water distribution system on Oneida territory (with 2,200 residents) – operated by the community with regulatory oversight from Indigenous Services Canada – has failed to meet provincial standards dating back to 2006. Upstream, the nearby City of London dumps millions of litres of raw sewage into the Thames river that serves as the community’s water source. Yet, Oneida has received none of the federal government’s high-profile funding for safe, clean drinking water to Indigenous communities.

On the other side of the gravel road across Oneida is the Township of Southampton who draw their water from Lake Erie and is fed by a $176M upgrade last year. “I give my biggest beef here to all the municipalities around us that received money to bring up their water systems after Walkerton (tainted water scandal) to meet new renewed standards” said Oneida Chief Jessica Hill, who stopped drinking from her water tap in 2002.
“We are still sitting here with pre-Walkerton standards. What does that tell you?

The bottled water that the Oneida community drinks from comes from same source as the tap water of neighbours in the municipality across the street.

August 7, 2019

Fed. Govt, MB

Shoal Lake

Maclean’s – Shoal Lake 40 grabbed national attention when its members used a brassy campaign tactic, protesting outside Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights in 2014 to point out a glaring contradiction: the water flowing through the museum’s taps came from an isolated community without clean water and a road. Hundreds marched on the city’s streets, supported by dozens of churches and the popular Christian musician, Steve Bell. In 2016, the three jurisdictions agreed to cost-share the $30 million road.

June 2, 2019

Fed. Govt, MB

Shoal Lake: Finally gets a road after Winnipeg aqueduct cuts them off

CBC – It took the federal and provinvial governments 100 years to re-connect Shoal Lake # 40 First Nation to the mainland after construction of an aqueduct in 1919 resulted in flooding that cut them off from the mainland and eventually from their own source of drinking water. Winnipeg gets its drinking water from Shoal Lake who have been under a boil water advisory for 22 years. All 3 levels of government are finally financing the construction of a $40M all season access road to Shoal Lake.

In the meantime, 9 residents have died after falling through the ice in the winter (their only access to the mainland)