North Caribou Lake First Nation asks Ottawa for help as sewage spill threatens water supply – The Globe and Mail

April 1, 2019

The sewage lagoon at the North Caribou Lake First Nation has leaked every year since the federal government constructed it in 1997.

But this winter the lagoon burst, sending its contents streaming across the north end of the reserve toward a creek that feeds into the water supply for the Oji-Cree community about 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

So far, there is minimal bacterial contamination of the water supply from the raw sewage, with levels of E. coli below the level deemed to threaten human health. But the community of just under 700 people is worried about what will happen during the spring thaw, and how its water supply and the lake where people swim and fish could be affected.

Chief Dinah Kanate has declared a state of emergency and hopes to meet with officials from Ottawa this week to ask for immediate help from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). “I am very worried about this,” Ms. Kanate said. “There’s already E. coli in the water system.”

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