Neskantaga Update – Water Pump Repairs Completed

INAC Minister Bennett, Chief Moonias, NAN Grand Chief Fiddler, AFN National Chief Bellegarde at Neskantaga FN Water Plant
INAC Minister Bennett, Chief Moonias, NAN Grand Chief Fiddler, AFN National Chief Bellegarde at Neskantaga FN Water Plant

THUNDER BAY – NESKANTAGA – Kenora – Timmins – The self-evacuation of people from Neskantaga to Thunder Bay has been completed. Chief Chris Moonias advises that 17 people have chosen to remain in the community ensuring all is well.

Repairs to the Water Pump have been completed. MP Bob Nault advises the repairs are complete and testing of the water is now underway as of late this afternoon.

Chief Moonias shares the timeline for repairs, testing and the possible lifting of the Do Not Consume to a Boil Water Advisory:

Flushing/Sampling Timeline

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
1) Matawa Controls Technician will inspect the sodium hypochlorite dosage pump and diagnose the problem.

2) Complete the required repairs to the dosage pump and return to service if able

3) Begin chlorinating the water

Thursday, September 19, 2019
1) Verifiy chlorination of water and start flushing of the distribution system

2) Sample the distribution system for adequate chlorine residual

3) Possible sampling late Thursday afternoon if all other steps above are complete

Friday, September 20, 2019
1) Delivery of samples to ALS Labs Friday afternoon.

Saturday, September 21, 2020
1) Samples will be “plated” at ALS labs

Sunday, September 22, 2019
1) Possible results (24 hours) Sunday morning or afternoon

Monday, September 23, 2019
1) Absolute verification (48 hours) after samples received.

After the completion of the above procedure, Matawa will be in a position to recommend the Chief and Council change the Do Not Consume to a Boil Water Advisory (BWA).

Indigenous Services Canada reports, “We respect Chief Moonias’ decision to evacuate his community and are focused on ensuring that community members – be it in Thunder Bay or at home – have the health and wellness supports they need.

“To that end, Indigenous Services Canada has provided additional medical support, increased the amount of bottled water available, and provided technical expertise. In regard to the costs of the evacuation, we will work to minimize any financial impacts that result from the self-evacuation.

“We are steadfast in our commitment that all Canadians should have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water and Neskantaga First Nation is no exception. In regards to the current water issue, Indigenous Services Canada was alerted on Friday that the water pump had failed. Upon being notified, a replacement was immediately authorized and sent to the community. I am happy to say that the water pump was fixed earlier today—we offer our immense thanks to the local team that worked tirelessly on this fix.

“Furthermore, the Neskantaga water treatment plant is weeks away from being fully operational and providing a stable source of clean drinking water to the community for many years to come. The completion of this work will support the lift of the long-term drinking water advisory that has been in place in the community since 1995, which is far too long.”

Kenora Liberal MP Bob Nault has been in Neskantaga twice in recent months. Nault says, “Just this past August, I visited Neskantaga’s Water Treatment Plant– my first of two visits to Neskantaga in August alone – as work continued on the plant. I have fought, and will continue to fight, for clean, safe drinking water for all First Nations and communities throughout the Kenora Riding.”

“In July 2017, the Liberal government invested $8.8 million to upgrade Neskantaga First Nation’s water treatment system, including an addition to the existing water plant. Neskantaga First Nation is now in the final stages of completing construction upgrades to the existing water treatment plant. My understanding is that the new water treatment system will be completed in October, and I am looking forward to ending the longest advisory in Canada’s history. When completed the water treatment plant that will provide safe, clean, drinking water for generations to come.

“As you can imagine, construction in a remote fly-in community can be difficult at best, as the seasons and weather often dictate the transportation and arrival of supplies. Despite these hurdles, we made significant progress and I remain as committed now as I was in 2017, to seeing this project through.

There is also a political storm brewing over the response of the Indigenous Services Canada to the emergency.

Timmins James Bay Liberal candidate Charlie Angus has weighed in. “The state of emergency in Neskantaga First Nation is shocking. The situation has gotten so bad that the community is evacuating elders and kids, at the community’s own expense, because of unsafe drinking water,” states Angus. “I’ve represented my region for years, and I always show up when communities I represent need help. That’s why I’m shocked by Bob Nault’s silence around this crisis. Neskantaga has had a boil water advisory in effect for 25 years. This is the longest advisory in Canada’s history. Nault’s represented it for eleven of those years and was the Minister of Indigenous Affairs for four of them.”

Angus added, “I’ve been invited to visit communities Bob Nault represents – Grassy Narrows, where Jagmeet Singh and I met community leaders to see how we could support their efforts to secure a mercury home, Cat Lake, where people were facing a housing crisis in the dead of winter, and Eabametoong. These communities have struggled. He hasn’t even spoken about them or Neskantaga in the House a single time in his time in Ottawa. Bob Nault doesn’t deserve to keep representing them.”

“Luckily, people in Kenora have another option: voting for Rudy Turtle and the NDP on October 21. Chief Turtle is a fighter for his people, and he’ll go to bat for every community to make sure that every First Nations kid in the Northwest gets the chance to grow up in a safe, healthy home with good schools and clean water.”