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9th November 2020
Neskantaga First Nation members could begin returning home on Nov. 28

Community evacuated in October after oily substance found in reservoir, water shut off

CBC News Posted: Nov 09, 2020 7:00 AM ET Last Updated: 6 hours ago

Members of Neskantaga First Nation, who've been in Thunder Bay since the community was evacuated in October, could begin returning home on Nov. 28 if the upgraded water treatment system is operational.

Neskantaga was evacuated after an oily substance was found it its reservoir, and the water supply was subsequently shut off.

"First we were told November 6, then we were told November 12, now it's November 28," Chief Chris Moonias said. "We don't know. I'm not optimistic at this time."

Since the evacuation, Moonias said work to upgrade the community's water treatment system has been taking place, and the new system is almost ready to "fire up."

But there's still a process to go through to ensure it's working properly, including running a successful 14-day test.

And, Moonias said, there's still concern about the community's water distribution system, which hasn't seen any upgrades.

"There's been many leaks identified, but we're not sure where the leaks are," he said. "And we're not even sure that the new, upgraded water plant will be able to be supported by the old system, that's been there since 1993."

Neskantaga has been under a boil water advisory for more than 25 years. More than 250 members have been staying in Thunder Bay since the evacuation.

"I want to make sure that we have water 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "I want to make sure that my community members have clean drinking water, and I want to make sure that there's no contaminants found in our water systems."