Drinking water project to continue through winter

TYENDINAGA MOHAWK TERRITORY -- The third phase of a decades long struggle to bring safe drinking water to Tyenindaga Mohawk Territory is well under way, Chief R. Donald Maracle said.

“Currently, we are building the disaster mitigation and adaptation part,” the longtime chief said in an interview. “Infrastructure Canada is contributing $30 million, (while) the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte will be putting in approximately $10 million for this project.

Phase 3 broke ground on Oct. 3 at the corner of Beach Road and Young Street in Shannonville. The work, being done by Gordon Barr Ltd., encompasses 21 kilometres of watermain and service to 320 residences.

“Right now that project is under construction on Beach Road,” Chief Maracle said. “I think they're almost down to the Beach area now from Shannonville, and they hope to have that completed before Christmas, and then they'll move along over to the other part of Ridge Road.”

Work will continue throughout the winter, according to Chief Maracle.

“The plan is to work through the winter,” he said. “Phase two (of the current work) will extend the water line from York Road to along the upper Slash Road, up near Shannonville, York Road to Slash Road down to Wyman Road and then it’ll go north from York Road to Wymans Road. And then the water service will be extending from the Ridge Road north along Norway Side Road to complete a loop.”

Work is expected to be completed by October 2023, the chief added.

“The contractor assures us they can get it completed,” he said. “They're hoping to bring a second work crew on in January.”

Decades of lobbying and fighting have finally yielded results, as many Indigenous communities in Canada continue to live with many boil water advisories.

“Once the water main project is completed, we will have installed 57.8 kilometres of water main from all the water projects that went on since 1987,” Chief Maracle said.

In 1987, the Bayshore Road extension/Huron Brant Drive project was completed. That was followed in 1995 by the Huron Brant Drive North extension and the Highway 2/Church Lane servicing in 1998. The larger projects began in 2014, with Phase 1 of the water treatment plant and distribution to Quinte Mohawk School. In 2018, Phase 2 of the water tower and distribution project reached York Road to Shannonville, followed in 2021 by Phase 3, the long-term drinking water advisories water distribution project, followed this year by Bells Road/North Street/Old Hwy. 2 water distrubition project and Phase 4 watermain distribution project.

Chief Maracle has been part of the leadership for every single kilometer of the work.

“Well, I I certainly have lobbied for water for many decades for our community,” he said. “We've completed 57,804 meters of water in our community.”

Jan Murphy is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Belleville Intelligencer. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Water woes

What: Phase 4 of Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund water main project.

Where: Beach Road and Young Street, Shannonville.

How much: The third phase of the DMAF Watermain Project broke ground Monday, October 3 at the corner of Beach Road and Young Street in Shannonville.

Moving on: This next phase will include 21 kilometres of watermain and service 320 residences. The roads that will soon be serviced by the Water Treatment Plant will be:

· Beach Road

· Ridge Road from Beach Road to Norway Side Road

· Norway Side Road north of Ridge Road to York Road

· The remainder of York Road east of Sucker Creek to Highway 49.

· Lower Slash Road west of Highway 49 to Wymans Road, including Homeland Drive

· Wymans Rd. south of Lower Slash to York Road

· Upper Slash west of Milltown Road to York Road

· Milltown Road North or York Road to Highway #2

Ongoing struggle: Since November 2015, 43 long-term drinking water advisories have been revoked from First Nations public drinking water systems in Ontario; 31 long-term drinking water advisories in the province have been added in that same period and three have been deactivated.

Current: There are 44 drinking water advisories affecting public systems financially supported by Indigenous Services Canada in 26 communities in Ontario.

Good news: It’s anticipated that 39 of the remaining long-term drinking water advisories will be removed in 2021-22.

Funding: In 2019-2020, more than $106 million has been invested in projects to address long-term drinking water advisories. A further $95.5 million was invested in 2020-2021.

Jan Murphy, Local Journalism Initiative, Belleville Intelligencer