New Contract to Assess Water for First Nations

The Honorable Chuck Strahl, minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and federal interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, recently announced a contract award to Neegan Burnside Limited for an engineering assessment of existing public and private water and wastewater systems providing services to First Nation communities in Canada

"This comprehensive engineering assessment will be an invaluable project to help our government, together with First Nations, identify the water and wastewater needs for their communities and help ensure money is going where it is needed most," said Strahl.

The assessment, which will take 18 months to complete, will involve the assessment of 1,300 communal water and wastewater systems and a sampling of more than 70,000 wells, cisterns, and septic fields in 607 First Nations communities in nine regions across the country. It will provide a more accurate account of the current state of water and wastewater systems on reserves and enable both First Nations and the federal government to focus resources on priorities required to address identified needs for each community.

The government is taking decisive action to improve water conditions on reserves through new measures identified in the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan. This includes:

  • completing engagement sessions in March 2009 on a proposed federal legislative framework for drinking water on reserve as part of the government's consultation process on a regulatory regime;
  • improvements and developments on water and wastewater protocols that will be issued shortly; and
  • moving forward with the national engineering assessment.

These initiatives are in addition to the federal government's ongoing investments in water and wastewater, including the $165 million investment for 18 water and wastewater projects for First Nation communities identified in Canada's Economic Action Plan.

This contract was awarded following a competitive procurement process.

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