If your tap water smells like chlorine, your schnozz has sniffed out a common springtime phenomenon in Edmonton. The spring thaw has made the city's drinking water more pungent than usual. Run-off from melting snow and river ice has washed higher than normal volumes of organic material into the water supply, said Shane Harnish, Epcor's senior manager of analytical operations. It's something workers at Edmonton's water treatment plants contend with every year. "What you're noticing is the chlorine smell in our water, and it's due to the chlorine reacting with some of this organic material," Harnish said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, congratulated Horse Lake First Nation on the opening of their new water treatment system. The new water treatment system in Horse Lake is critical to the community's efforts to ensure future generations have access to clean water. The new system features dual media filtration, reverse osmosis membranes, and ultra-violet light radiation.
Tellingly, Ms. Philpott publicly declared last fall that her department’s mandate is to make itself “obsolete” by empowering Indigenous groups to gain long-asked-for independence in providing services to their own communities. It’s clear that the goal is to assist First Nations to expand their role in operating and maintaining their own water systems.
Behind every failed First Nations water plant is an unfortunate story. Assigning blame can be challenging: Although Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) pays for most on-reserve infrastructure and sets most of the rules governing design and construction, many other parties are involved, including project managers, engineering and construction firms and First Nations chiefs and councillors.