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Ottawa promises to build new treatment plant for reserve plagued by brown water

Potlotek First Nation resident Patricia Paul displays a sample of water she says came from her taps at home as she poses for a photo in front of bottles of water being supplied on demand to Potlotek residents in St. Peters, N.S., on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Wadden
October 04, 2016 - 3:22 PM

ST. PETERS, N.S. - An official with a First Nation in Cape Breton believes there is a renewed effort to do something about water in the community that is brown, thick and often smells.

Community members and the band council in Potlotek met with officials from Northern Affairs and Health Canada Tuesday to discuss the long-standing problem and possible interim solutions.

Band manager Lindsay Marshall said the meeting was positive and he added that federal officials appear to be taking the community's concerns seriously.

"Our chief Wilbert Marshall was very explicit in telling them that the lake as a source of water is not suitable and we won't use it," said Marshall. "We are investigating the possibility of bored wells or drilled wells . . . we have winter coming so we want to make sure we do whatever we can do to ensure a water supply."

Northern Affairs says it has been providing bottled water to the community since last month and has arranged for people to shower at facilities nearby.

"They said they would keep supplying bottled water as long as it was necessary," Marshall said.

He said people in the community have not been drinking the water or using it to shower.

Marshall said a trailer with a heavy duty washing machine arrived in the community and an additional portable shower facility would be brought in next week.

The federal government is promising to build a new treatment plant.

Valerie Hache, a spokeswoman with Indian and Northern Affairs, said in an email that design work on the plant at the Potlotek reserve is due to begin soon but offered no specifics on when it would be completed.

She said the system will remove iron and manganese from the water, which are causing the discolouration in Potlotek and have been recorded at levels that exceed the Canadian drinking water guidelines.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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