Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Remote Cree First Nation loses water supply

Winnipeg Free Press

About 500 people will have to use bottled water in York Factory First Nation in northern Manitoba following a federal order not to use or drink the local water.

Federal health officials issued a "Do not drink or use" order last week after complaints of a diesel fuel-like smell from water taps among the 124 households in the Cree community located 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

"Right now the water from our water plant can only be used for flushing toilets," Chief Louisa Constant said in a statement.

Bottled water is used for everything else in the community, she said.

She said the York Factory is now waiting for the results of tests Health Canada is conducting on water samples.

Constant said she believes the source of the problem is with the water treatment plant itself. For over 20 years, water treatment in York Landing has run into repeated problems due to a malfunction in the automated control panel at the plant. Band officials indicated the plant was never properly repaired after a power surge at the treatment plant from a lightning strike in 1990.

Constant said she’s called on both levels of government and Manitoba Hydro to collaborate with the First Nation on repairs to get the treatment plant operating properly.

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