Grassy Narrows Chief Fobister calls on all candidates to make clean water commitments

Water from the Kam River flows into Lake Superior
Safe drinking water is a basic need

Grassy Narrows Chief Fobister
Grassy Narrows Chief Fobister

Grassy Narrows – ANISHINAABE – Chief Fobister, from Grassy Narrows states, “The government of Canada failed to act for 15 years after it knew that Grassy Narrows water violated safety limits for tubidity and possible cancer causing chemicals”.

In a statement issued by Grassy Narrows First Nation the band says, “Health Canada found THMs, a possibly cancer causing chemical, at levels above the safety limit in drinking water at the Grassy Narrows daycare center in 1999.  More than 15 years later Ontario Ministry of the Environment monitoring found that levels of THMs and HAAs in Grassy Narrows drinking water were still above the safety limit in samples taken this Spring”.

The tainted tap water problems have likely persisted since the water system was built with a deficient design in 1993.

“Problems with tainted tap water and fundamental design flaws in the water treatment plant have been known by government for at least 15 years” charges Chief Fobister, “But Canada has yet to fix them or even set a timeline for providing safe tap water to the community.  Other parts of the community have yet to be connected to piped water, and have relied on well water that exceeds uranium safety limits”.

“The government of Canada, and our MP Greg Rickford, have been asleep at the wheel when it comes to providing safe drinking water to our community,” said Chief Roger Fobister.  “We need our treatment plant fixed and upgraded right away.  I am calling on all candidates to declare a date by which they would have safe tap water flowing for our families.”

Grassy Narrows has been on a boil water advisory since June 2014, but boiling water does not remove HAAs and only removes some THMs.  Parts of the community using well water were put on a “do not consume” order in 2013.  But a report to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs shows that the well water had uranium detected above the safety limit in 2010.  The tested wells likely had high uranium levels throughout their three decades of operation.

Last week Grassy Narrows declared a state of emergency over unsafe drinking water conditions.

“Why should we live with unsafe tap water for our families,” asked Deputy Chief Randy Fobister.  “Our children deserve to have clean water like any other Canadian would expect.  We will not tolerate this for one more day.”