APTN National News
CONSTANCE LAKE, Ont.–Indian Affairs is defending its decision to limit bottled water shipments to an Ontario First Nation that has been without a clean water supply source since the summer.
The department says it’s cutting down bottled water shipments to Constance Lake because the community is already trucking in water from a nearby river.
Constance Lake Chief Arthur Moore, however, says the water from the river is not safe to drink and is used only for laundry, cleaning and toilets.
“It is still high risk for consumption,” said Moore. “They are being callous and not responsive to their responsibility.”
Moore was meeting with department officials in Toronto Monday.
Moore said Friday that Indian Affairs had moved to limit the amount of bottled water the community received to 1.5 litres per person, down from six litres per person.
Constance Lake has a population of about 900 people.
Indian Affairs says it decided to reduce the shipments because the community had a steady water supply.
“Now that the community has access to a consistent water supply via truck, we have reduced the importation of bottled water,” said the department in an emailed statement Monday. “The bottled water supply, coupled with that being brought into the community via truck, is consistent with guidelines set by Health Canada, which has the expertise and responsibility for setting such standards.”
Moore, however, said the manager of the water treatment plant consulted with Health Canada before concluding that the water from the river was not safe to drink.
The community is receiving several tanker truck shipments of water a day from a private co-generation private station about seven kilometres away that is drawing water from the Kabina River.
The community was forced to find a new water supply after thick algae was discovered on Constance Lake which was their main source. Moore said the lake is dying.
The community is currently working on pumping underground well water to the treatment plant as an interim measure.
The water treatment plant’s main filter system was also damaged by the algae and needs to be repaired.
Constance Lake is about 940 kilometres north of Toronto.