It’s been nearly four months since some people on the Sunchild First Nation could use their tap water.
People who rely on the reserve’s westend pumphouse public water system, estimated by Health Canada to include up to 100 people, have been under a do not consume advisory from Health Canada since September.
The order, issued Sept. 29, 2017, indicates there are contaminants in the water that can’t be removed by boiling. Under these circumstances, people are advised to not use their tap water to cook, drink, feed pets, brush their teeth, make soups or ice cubes, wash fruits and vegetables or make infant formula or other drinks.
It also advises infants, toddlers and the elderly to not use tap water to bathe and instead have sponge baths.
At another portion of the reserve, located west of Rocky Mountain House, about 101 to 500 people according to Health Canada, was placed under a boil water advisory since Dec. 19, 2017. It was rescinded on Jan. 8.
The two warnings on Sunchild are part of the 10 short-term water advisories listed by Health Canada in Alberta.
Both of these water systems are financially supported by Indigenous Services Canada.
However, these water advisories are defined as short-term by Health Canada. The federal government defines long-term drinking water advisories as those that last longer than a year.
On Tuesday, the federal government reaffirmed its commitment to get 91 long-term advisories lifted by March 2021. It also added about 250 drinking water systems to the total number covered by the federal government’s commitment to ensure clean drinking water on public systems on reserves.
“We have a lot of hard work ahead, but our government remains steadfast in our commitment to lift all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March 2021,” said Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services in a release.
The 2016 budget provided $1.8 billion over five years to improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure.