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Water repairs carry hefty price tag (03/04)

A water intake repair that one First Nation community in the North believed would only require the replacement of a diesel motor, has been tagged at more than $1.2 million.

A water intake repair that one First Nation community in the North believed would only require the replacement of a diesel motor, has been tagged at more than $1.2 million. Now, nearly two years later, there is still work that needs to be done on the system.

The Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishnaabek First Nation community, with an on-reserve population of about 315 people, located 140 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, was, at the end of February, only a couple weeks away from commissioning a new water intake system.

A couple years ago when a new diesel engine that runs the community water system in an emergency was installed they found the system running out of water. Engineers determined that that the intake, which operates the community’s water system, signaled the first problem with the system, says Amelia Hardy, Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishnaabek First Nation band manager.

It was discovered the water intake into Lake Nipigon was crushed, restricting flow into the system.

“To think, this all started with a motor burning out and a diesel motor only costs what, about $50,000?” Hardy says. “It ended up costing $1.2 million. Our council has been pretty persistent, and we were able to work with INAC (Indian and North Affairs Canada) to get the funding for it.”

The intake has been replaced by engineering firm The Norel Group in Thunder Bay, but now the next step of the project will be to bring the community’s water system into compliance with the province’s water regulations.

New treatment plant needed

Hardy says it will require a new treatment plant at an estimated cost of around $4.5 million.

“We’re working on a terms of reference to get the project started and we’re looking at 2005 for the new plant (to go online),” she says. “It has to do with filtering to get the water cleaner. Right now, we use chlorine to treat the water, but we have to have a better system. We’re just in the early planning stages now. We are also working with the Ministry of Health to test our water, but we’re getting a little lab of our own to do our own testing.

“People think that 2005 is a long way; its not,” says Hardy.

Red Rock First Nation, located 100 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, received $1.519 million last year for the construction of a new water intake line connecting the existing raw water line to the water treatment plant.

Harold Sault, chief of Red Rock First Nation, says the design of the new system is underway and shovels are expected to go into the ground by spring of this year.

The new system for Biinjitiwaabik the Zaaging Anishnaabek First Nation community is expected to be commissioned by 2005.

“The construction process has not been tendered yet,” he says, pointing out that Red Rock First Nation has had a disagreement with the INAC, which Sault says wanted to take over financial management of the project.

“We think that’s wrong because we handle our own business, and since this new council has come in, there have been many changes here in the positive,” he says. “We had a meeting with representatives from INAC and we both left with both feeling more comfortable with the handling of it.”




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