Thunder Bay

O'Regan pledges to work with Eabametoong on water crisis

Canadian Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan says he hopes to speak to leadership of Eabametoong First Nation soon, so the federal government can begin working to address the community's water crisis.

Community declared state of emergency over water quality earlier this month

Katie and Steve Koopman from Kingston, Ont., say the goal of $90K for a new ice surface for the girls hockey team in Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope. (Katie and Steve Koopman)

Canadian Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan says he hopes to speak to leadership of Eabametoong First Nation soon, so the federal government can begin working to address the community's water crisis.

Eabametoong declared a state of emergency earlier this month after tests showed a high level of trihalomethanes in its water supply.

During a visit to Thunder Bay on Monday morning, O'Regan said he hadn't yet reached out to the community, but "will be in touch with them very shortly."

O'Regan said speaking to the community will be vital in figuring out the best way to address the water issues there.

"The only way that you create lasting solutions is by coming to the community, listening to the community, working with them, building solutions from the ground up," he said. "So we'll evaluate it, we'll work together, and we'll build a solution that's unique to their problems."

Trihalomethanes are the result of chlorine interacting with organic matter in water, and long-term exposure can have detrimental health effects.

Eabametoong First Nation is located about 360 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Indigenous Services Canada said that a new water treatment plant in the First Nation is expected to remove the community's long-term drinking water advisory in August.

"The new water treatment plant will also address elevated levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) that were found in recent test results at the existing water treatment plant," the statement said, adding that Eabametoong has three reverse osmosis units that supply clean water until the community's water system has been purified.

now