Ontario First Nation still under boil-water advisory after fixing main water line

By Paola Loriggio, originally posted on November 13, 2016


NORTH CARIBOU LAKE , Ont. — A water main line in a northwestern Ontario First Nation has been fixed but the community will remain under a boil-water advisory until tests confirm there is no contamination.

Bob Nault, the Liberal MP for Kenora, says residents of the North Caribou Lake First Nation who have been without clean drinking water since last week could need to stick to bottled water for up to two more weeks.

Nault says he spoke to the community’s Chief Dinah Kanate, who told him some people had reported experiencing rashes they believed may be related to the water problem.

But he says the link has not yet been confirmed.

He says it’s unclear what caused the main line pumps and filters to clog, but any time water stops flowing it risks becoming contaminated.

Nault says the water will now be chlorinated as the community of roughly 700 waits for water samples to be tested.

“Until it’s tested and confirmed that everything’s back to normal, the boil water stays on,” he said.

“You can get rashes, you can even get potential E.coli, all sorts of things if you don’t have a regular flow of water through the systems.”

Ottawa last month announced it would invest $4 million to expand its program aimed at increasing access to safe drinking water in Ontario First Nations.

The expanded project is meant to eliminate boil-water advisories in 19 communities, including North Caribou Lake.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne admitted that the Ontario and federal governments have not managed to provide safe drinking water to First Nations communities.

“We haven’t figured out how to partner in the best way on First Nations water,” Wynne told a Toronto conference Monday.

Nault says access to clean drinking water has been a problem for many First Nations for a long time.

“This is going to take a while, I don’t think anyone is expecting a miracle overnight,” he said, adding the government expects to end the advisories within five years.

He said he is aware of other communities in northwestern Ontario that are having issues with their water treatment plants, sewer lines and water lines.

“We just have to be quick to react and to work with the communities to get it resolved as quickly as possible,” he said.