Water treatment plant, sewage lagoon upgrades needed before new houses can be built: Moose Cree

·3 min read

Until the water treatment plant and sewage lagoon are upgraded, renovation of the boarded-up houses cannot be completed and no new housing projects can start on Moose Factory Island, according to Moose Cree's public works update.

Moose Cree First Nation (MCFN) operates the water treatment plant and the sewage lagoon system that services all of Moose Factory Island, according to Moose Cree's notice to the membership.

“In 2015, MCFN was informed by inspectors that both of those systems were operating beyond their capacity. This is both a health concern for our community and environmental concern as well,” reads the statement.

The study of the water treatment plant was finished last December. Now, Moose Cree is waiting for a project approval request (PAR) to be finalized and approved, said Abel Wapachee, Moose Cree’s director of public works.

“We’re waiting for that to be finalized and approved, then we can start doing the paperwork,” he said.

Moose Cree is applying for a new water plant, not to repair the existing one, Wapachee said.

“It’s costing too much money on operation and maintenance or repairs. Some of the parts are over 50 years old and we’re applying for a new plant for the next 20 years,” he said.

The water treatment system operates overcapacity, Wapachee said.

“We can’t build any homes or do any upgrades until the plant is done,” he said. “We’re over the capacity of what it’s supposed to hold for the population … Right now, there’s not enough water for everybody to use. The population is getting bigger, we need more housing, but we can’t build any more housing because the water plant we have now won’t hold any new buildings.”

The new plant will have new piping and there will be an elevated storage tank that can be used for fire suppression, according to Wapachee. Currently, drinking water is used if there’s a fire, he said.

“Let’s say we have two or three houses burnt or a big, big fire, we’ll have no water in the morning,” he said.

Sometimes, the water intake during the ice breakup can be damaged, so there needs to be a permanent intake, Wapachee added.

As for the sewage lagoon system, the project is currently in the design phase. The lagoon will be upgraded according to the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations.

“After the design is done, then we will do the construction. The construction is supposed to start in November 2021, performance April 2023, project completion and the turnover 2024,” he said.

The sewage upgrades are expected to be completed by 2024, then the water treatment plant project will be done, Wapachee said.

Funding for these projects will be coming from Indigenous Services Canada.

So far, Moose Cree has received funding for project management, for a study of the water plant, a study of the sewage plant and for a consulting engineering firm to do the design of the sewage lagoon, according to Wapachee.

“And then you still got to ask for funding when you do the construction,” Wapachee said. “That’s why we have to get this PAR done in order to get the funding.”

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com