Drought conditions forced Manitoba First Nation to turn off its drinking water taps

·3 min read

As dry weather and drought conditions continue in the province, one First Nations community was forced to shut down its drinking water supply last weekend, and the community’s chief now says it is time to start seeking “real and long term solutions” to climate change, so the same issues don’t persist year after year.

On Friday, Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches released a statement letting the residents of the community, which sits just outside of Portage la Prairie, know that drinking water had been temporarily shut off.

“On Friday, I got a call from our water plant operator who said that our aquifers were very low, and so a decision was made to shut the pumps down because they were just sucking air,” Meeches said on Wednesday.

The shutdown also forced the community to seek help from their neighbours to get water into the community, as tanker trucks hauled water from Portage la Prairie over the weekend to replenish the First Nation's reservoir.

Four tankers from Swan Lake First Nation and one from the nearby Rosedale Hutterite Colony hauled hundreds of gallons of water from Portage la Prairie to Long Plain First Nation over the weekend.

“We had to haul water from Portage la Prairie, we hauled in over 400,000 gallons of water, and we do greatly appreciate the support we have received,” Meeches said.

“Long Plain does have a great relationship with Portage la Prairie and with the communities all around here, and a lot of people really stepped up and got us the help we needed.”

Meeches now says the water is back up and running in Long Plain, but added that as the drought and a lack of rain continue in Manitoba, this year’s dry weather should be a signal that climate change is starting to cause “real and problematic issues” in this province and beyond.

“Definitely climate change is taking its toll, not only here, but all over the world,” Meeches said. “You see it with the dry weather and the extreme heat.”

Meeches said he worries that if all levels of government don’t start to look at more solutions to climate change, issues like the lack of water in Long Plain could continue to affect communities year after year.

“It’s been a challenging year, but it’s going to be an ongoing concern for us and for many communities, and unfortunately I think there are going to be a lot of challenging years moving forward,” he said.

“The warning signs have been there for quite some time, and people need to start taking this seriously. We can see it all over the world and we need to start addressing it.

“Hopefully we can temper that and reverse the effects, but that is going to be a long journey in itself.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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