Feds kick in $43 million to supply clean drinking water for Oneida Nation of the Thames

Oneida Nation of the Thames, an Indigenous community near London, Ont., that has been on a boil water advisory since 2019, has secured $43 million in federal funding to connect to a municipal water supply.

The connection to the Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System will supply potable water to more than 500 homes and public buildings to the community, which has a population of 2,000.

In addition to delivering potable water, the money will allow Oneida to install fire protection and support new construction.

A boil water advisory has been in effect on Oneida’s water system since September 2019 and became long-term in September 2020. Problems with low water quality and limited water pressure forced the community to declare a state of emergency in December.

Chief Todd Cornelius said he’s elated at the news, which comes after months of lobbying Indigenous Services Canada.

“Water is life.” said Cornelius.  “It’s been a long road, and while we have been resilient, we know that clean water is vital to the overall health of our community. I look forward to the day when our community can drink water by simply turning on their tap. It’s time to get to work on making this a reality. I want to thank the people of Oneida and the administration who have endured this process and worked to finalize this agreement.”

The water infrastructure project is projected to be completed in about 18 to 24 months.

In January, CBC News reported that Oneida had struck a supply agreement with the Lake Huron water system to have an 18-kilometre pipe built to carry water to their community to a connection point at Springwell Road and Falconbridge Drive near Mt. Brydges, Ont.

feds kick in $43 million to supply clean drinking water for oneida nation of the thames

The water pipe extension will bring treated Lake Huron water to Oneida Nation of the Thames from a connection point near Mt. Brydges, Ont.

The Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System supplies treated Lake Huron water to 15 municipalities across an area the size of Prince Edward Island. Parts of London, along with Middlesex Centre, Strathroy-Caradoc, Lucan-Biddulph, Grand Bend and others, are supplied by the system.

Boil water advisories are a way of life for First Nations communities across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed during the 2015 election campaign to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories on public water systems on First Nations reserves by 2021.

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