Improved water system in Zhiibaahaasing

ZHIIBAAHAASING—The residents of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation will have better, cleaner water to drink in the community with the completion of improvements to the water treatment system in the community.

“This is a huge upgrade done to protect our water system,” said Kevin Mossip, a Zhiibaahaasing councillor, in an interview with the Recorder on Tuesday. “We have added more protection and barriers to any possible problems with water quality by going to a class two water plant, using a slow sand filtration system.”

Mr. Mossip explained, “previously we had a holding tank water system, but it still allowed for opportunities for poorer quality water.”

“With the new sand filtration system, it provides added protection barriers for protection of the water,” said Mr. Mossip.

Funding of $1.1 million was provided to Zhiibaahaasing First Nation for the project. As part of the Canada-Ontario First Nations Drinking Water Improvement Initiative, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) had previously announced $5 million for four projects in Ontario First Nations communities. Working in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario (MOE), the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNSC), Health Canada (HC), and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs of Ontario (MAA), the aim of this initiative is to demonstrate the benefits of innovative and alternative approaches to water treatment and distribution systems to improve drinking water quality in Ontario First Nation communities.

The knowledge gained through this initiative will inform the over 600 First Nations communities in Canada and the Government of Canada and Ontario about options to ensure sustainability and cost-effective solutions for drinking water systems.

Funding from the AANDC covered the costs of capital infrastructure, as well as the costs of asset operations and maintenance for a period of three years beyond commissioning.

The project partners under the program encouraged water industry representatives to consider innovative service and delivery options to ensuring access to safe drinking water. These options included consideration of centrally managed solutions utilizing, but not limited to point-of-entry (POE) systems, as well as packaged treatments plants with delivery options including, but not limited to truck delivery to cisterns and trickle feed systems.

The project outcome was designed to include improved water quality in participating communities, showcasing innovation, increased cost-effectiveness and sustainability, enhanced relationships and the promotion of long-term collaborative partnerships.

“The new system has been operational for about a month now,” said Mr. Mossip. He noted that Cecchetto Brothers did the work through an open bidding process. The grand opening for the new water treatment system will take place in September.

Tom Sasvari