The chief of Potlotek First Nation says his community is tired of lip service from the government, and he’s now putting his confidence in an Irish company to deal with the water issues.
Wilbert Marshall said while he’s been assured Ottawa is working to fix the problem, he’s confident in what he’s seen from Brewal Ireland Ltd. so far.
“Seeing is believing. I saw it with my own two eyes and I seen the test results,” Marshall said.
“We brought these guys from Ireland just to test and see if they could fix it. And they said they could fix it and anyway, they did some tests here and their tests turn out really good.”
An ongoing issue
This week, people in Potlotek were told not to drink or wash with their tap water due to high levels of manganese and iron.
In 2016, the community gathered to protest the water quality, and were promised a new treatment system by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
After more than $800,000 in repairs to the existing system, the water quality is still an issue.
Les Walsh, who works for Brewal, said the company has been working to remove the high levels of manganese and iron from the water.
He said he believes the company can help bring the levels down to Health Canada standards permanently in four to six months.
The federal government has been unable to give a timeline for how long it would take to build a new water treatment facility.
Similar projects can take three to five years
Stephanie Palma, spokesperson for Indigenous and Northern Affairs, said the installation of a new water treatment system is currently in the design phase and construction timelines will be determined after that.
“While every project is different, it can take three to five years to complete a community infrastructure project,” she said.
Palma also said the drinking water advisory issued in Potlotek this week is “seasonal in nature,” as changing temperatures cause the lake’s water to turn over.
“Levels usually decline when the seasonal factors end,” she said.
Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner said government is working to address both the short-term and the long-term problem.
For now, Cuzner said they’ve invested some money into the old system to try and “patch it…