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NEWS: Federal report says $5 billion needed for First Nations water systems

APTN reported this summer that, “Ottawa needs to invest nearly $5 billion in First Nations water and sewage systems over the next 10 years, according to two year-long study released by Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan Thursday. The government commissioned study, by firm Neegan Burnside, found that the federal government needed to immediately invest about $1.2 billion to raise reserve-based water and sewage systems to standards set by Aboriginal Affairs. …A total of 571 First Nations were included in the study which began in September 2009.”

“The study found 1,800 reserve homes have no water service and 1,777 homes have no sewage service at all. Of those with water service, the study found that 39 per cent of 807 reserve systems inspected were classified as posing a ‘high risk’, meaning they posed a threat to health and safety. These high risk systems serve about 25 per cent of the on-reserve population, the study said. …The study also found that of the 532 sewage systems inspected, 14 per cent were found to be seriously deficient.”

The Assembly of First Nations and the Council of Canadians have both supported the Alternative Federal Budget’s call for $1 billion to be spent this fiscal year to build, upgrade and maintain water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nation communities (as well as $1 billion in 2012-13 and 2013-14). In both the March 22 and June 6, the Harper government failed to provide the funding necessary to meet the drinking water and sanitation needs of First Nations peoples. (By contrast, the Harper government has committed to spending almost $30 billion over the next thirty years for the purchase and maintenance of the controversial F-35 fighter planes, according to the parliamentary budget officer.)

The APTN report is at http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2011/07/15/first-nations-water-needs-5-billion-fix-govt-study/.