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6th November 2018
Tofino ships water to Ahousaht First Nation as emergency declared

“We need to be there in their time of need.”

ANDREW BAILEY Nov. 5, 2018 4:00 p.m.NEWS

A drastic water shortage has caused the Ahousaht First Nation to declare a state of emergency.

In an email to the Westerly News, Emergency Management B.C. said Emergency Social Services have been activated.

“Drinking water systems and boil water advisories are the responsibility of local governments and water purveyors. Emergency Management BC does not support the operation of these systems,” the statement reads.

“Indigenous Services Canada is engaged and aware of the situation, and they are the appropriate agency to help address any water system infrastructure concerns from the community…The Ahousaht First Nation has indicated that they are running low on reservoir capacity and have identified the need to relocate elders. Emergency Management BC is supporting that request with short term Emergency Social Services.”

The First Nation’s elders are being transported to Tofino, roughly 20 kilometres away, and water is being shipped from Tofino to Ahousaht.

“They’ve reached out to us and Tofino has responded by making our water accessible to them,” Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly. “It’s always important to support our neighbours. We’re all in this together. They rely on us and we rely on them. We need to be there in their time of need.”

The water is being transported to Ahousaht by salmon farmer Cermaq Canada.

“Cermaq has a longstanding relationship with the Ahousaht community and we are happy to help in any way we can. Our thoughts are with the community and, in a small place like this, this is what neighbours do. We know Ahousaht would do the same for us if we were in a similar situation,” Cermaq’s Sustainable Development Director Linda Sams told the Westerly.

“Right now we have about 10,000 gallons of water storage capability, and we are working to locate more tanks. The Tofino Fire Department is filling the tanks on the barge from a nearby fire hydrant and P&H crane is helping to load and move the storage containers.”

She added the company plans to ship an additional 320 18.5-litre jugs of water to Ahousaht tommorow.

”We are going to continue working closely with members of the Ahousaht Community, the District of Tofino and other local support services to ensure the community has the water required until their system is restored,” she said. “We will be setting up a recycling centre to gather the water jugs after the water supply has been returned. This is in-line with our commitment to protecting the environment and reducing micro plastics in the oceans.”

In 2016, West Coast communities supported Ahousaht during a water crisis caused by a water main break.