Northern Manitoba First Nations community to get $40 million water project; part of $8 billion settlement

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CaDCR staff writer

A successful $8 billion drinking water class action settlement is leading to construction of a $40 million pipeline and water treatment plant for a northern Manitoba First Nations community.

Tataskweyak Cree Nation chief Taralee Beardy told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that work on the project will begin  next spring, meaning the community’s six-year boil water advisory will be coming to an end.

“Being able to drink out from the tap is something the rest of Canada takes for granted, and we can’t do that,” she told CBC News on Dec. 12.

The community of about 2,400 people is at Split Lake, northeast of Thompson. It has been under a boil water advisory since May 2017, affecting 361 homes and 5 community buildings, Indigenous Services Canada’s website says.

Tataskweyak will begin to draw its water from Assean Lake through the new pipeline and water treatment plant, according to ISC. The community’s existing water treatment plant will be converted into a booster station.

Beardy says the water treatment plant is on the Nelson River, which is subject to waters diverted from many Manitoba Hydro dams. “So we have a lot of sediment in our water and it’s very difficult for our current water treatment plant to keep the water clean.”

The federal government proposed a new law on Dec. 11 intended to protect fresh water sources, create minimum national drinking water and wastewater standards in First Nations, and provide sustainable funding for maintaining water quality.

Ottawa was required to introduce the new bill by the terms of the $8 billion drinking water class-action settlement for First Nations, CBC reported Former Tataskweyak chief Doreen Spence was the lead plaintiff in the class action.

The agreement includes $1.5 billion to compensate First Nations and their members who were deprived of clean drinking water for at least one year between November 1995 and March 2024, along with $6 billion for the construction and maintenance of water infrastructure.

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