Atlantic First Nations create water utility, to be up and running by 2022

water

Indigenous communities in Atlantic Canada are creating their own utility to take charge of water systems in First Nations around the region.

The Atlantic First Nations Water Authority is expected to be up and running independently by the spring of 2022, with a leadership team appointed by next April.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced today that the federal government will provide $2.5 million to assist in the formation of the agency, saying it will be the first Indigenous-owned and operated water authority in the country.

Indigenous communities in Canada currently pay 20 per cent of the operating and maintenance costs of their water and wastewater systems, with about 80 per cent of the operating funds provided by Indigenous Services Canada. The federal government also funds capital infrastructure.

Ottawa will continue to provide this funding, but management of the systems and the assets will shift to the First Nations water authority over the next two years.

Many communities, including Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton, have for decades struggled with inferior water quality, and have lobbied strongly for upgraded systems and more local control.