Chiefs say Ottawa’s criteria on drinking water leaving some nations out

Seven communities shorted by new drinking water criteria say Iroquois chiefs.

A group of chiefs from the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians welcomed politicians back to work Monday in Ottawa with a message.

That the government’s promise to eradicate boil water advisories in First Nations from 91 to zero by 2021 isn’t all what it seems to be.

That’s because the new criteria leaves seven communities out according to Deputy Chief Gord Peters.

“All of our communities didn’t fit the criteria, they didn’t fit the one-year boil water advisories,” said Peters. “Nor did they make an advancement in the rankings mandate to be able to move towards having constructions, so the problem that we face is both the ranking system and the process.”

The new criteria leaves out 547 homes in Tyendinaga said Chief Donald Maracle.

“Almost half of them are polluted and experience chronic water shortages,” said Maracle of a community with well-known water issues. “We have 102 shore wells along the Bay of Quinte, they suffer from blue green algae in the late fall and summer as a result the medical officer of health issues do not use orders.”

Grand Chief Joel Abram said his community, Oneida Nation of the Thames, also slipped through the cracks of the new criteria.

Abram said their water treatment plant serves over 2,300 people and it currently does not meet the Ontario standards for drinking water.

“We’re actually down river from the third worst polluter of water, a municipal polluter, which is London, Ontario. Whenever they have a storm water surge, partially treated sewage flows directly into the Thames River and we’re directly downstream from that,” he said.

“Our current treatment system can’t really deal with that situation. We’ve already had a lot of boil water advisories in the past.”

The chiefs are scheduled to meet with politicians over the next few days.

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