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NEWS: Constance Lake First Nation water crisis

The Canadian Press reports that, “A northern Ontario reserve where the water is unsafe to drink is pleading with Ottawa to maintain its bottled water shipments. The community learned last week that Ottawa was cutting the number of bottles shipped in from 4.5 litres per person, per day, to 1.5 litres, Constance Lake First Nations Chief Arthur Moore said.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has highlighted that the United Nations says a minimum amount of water for basic needs is anywhere between 25 and 50 litres a day.

The article highlights that, “The community declared a state of emergency in July when toxic blue-green algae began to bloom in the lake.” That emergency was declared on July 28, the same day the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution recognizing water as a basic human right.

“(The reserve) gets some water (now) from a nearby generation station, but Moore says that water is only suitable for flushing toilets, doing laundry, and taking showers.”

“Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) says it has spent $245,000 to drill and design a well, as well as truck in water to fill a well at the local water treatment plant until regular service is restored. …INAC said it is working with the reserve to rebuild filters at the local water treatment plant and building a water main between the well and the water treatment plant.” But the Toronto Star reported last August that, “At Constance Lake, the three-decade-old purification plant does not comply with Ontario regulations that (are supposed to) protect everyone in the province.”

Constance Lake Chief Arthur Moore has said that, “Access to a safe and useable water supply is a right of every person living in this country.” The Toronto Star has reported that, “Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians national chair who fought for the UN resolution, urged all First Nations to start using the resolution in their struggles to get the federal government to honour its commitment to provide clean water to aboriginal peoples.”

The Canadian Press article is at http://www.metronews.ca/halifax/world/article/700084–reserve-pleads-for-bottled-water-shipments. A previous blog on this situation is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=5418.