Drinking water advisories end in Shoal Lake 40 First Nation with opening of new water treatment facility

After more than two decades without clean drinking water, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation is celebrating the opening of a water treatment facility and the end of water advisories for the community. 

Despite drawing water from the same source as the City of Winnipeg, Shoal Lake 40 has never had a centralized water treatment facility.

Construction of the new $33-million water treatment facility and system started in 2019.

Now all the homes in the community are hooked up to clean drinking water from the plant. 

“It’s unbelievable and it’s also about damn time,” said Vernon Redsky, chief of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. 

The end of water advisories for the community was officially announced at an event Wednesday morning in the First Nation. 

Anthony Green, the Shoal Lake 40 water treatment plant operator, tests for chlorine. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

About two dozen people from the community as well numerous dignitaries, including federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, attended the event.

“This is a new day for Shoal Lake 40,” Miller said, adding that there was no excuse for the federal government allowing the water advisories to go on for so long.

“This is not a victory of the federal government, this is a victory of the community.”

Shoal Lake 40, which straddles the Ontario-Manitoba border, has been under drinking water advisories since 1997. 

That means there are young people in the community who have never known a time when they didn’t have to boil their water or drink bottled water.

Chevonne Greene, 26, said she can’t remember a time when Shoal Lake 40 wasn’t under water advisories.

She lives in Kenora with her four-month-old baby girl but wants to move back to her home community now. 

“For us, today we’re just catching up.” 

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