By Leslie Knibbs
SERPENT RIVER FN – Launching the building of a new water treatment plant was a sacred occasion for Serpent River First Nation.
“We know that water is a blessing and as Anishinabek, we hold water in sacred regard,” said Chief Isadore Day at a March 4 ceremony to celebrate the building of a state-of-the-art water treatment plant. “It is our belief that water is a gift from Mother Earth. We must protect it for future generations. This is why we hold ceremony, to honour water and to maintain the highest appreciation for its value in sustaining human life. This is how important this project is to our people.”
On January 30 of this year, a contract was signed with the Tribury-Matheson Group for the construction phase of the $13.3 million project due to be completed in August, 2015.
The First Nation is 95% bordered by water – the North Channel of Lake Huron and the Serpent River basin — allowing access to fresh water for the treatment plant. Community members have depended on a communal well system and individual wells for water, with quality and quantity of water being inconsistent. That is soon to change with the water treatment plant scheduled for completion by August of 2015.
Chief Day expressed appreciation for the community staff who moved the project forward, including former director of operations James Owl who helped initiate the application process in 2009, as well as former director Tony Moor and current director Nishin Meawasige.
Serpent River is contributing $750,000 to the project budget, with the federal government paying the balance. The First Nation will receive 10% , or $1.3 million in “local content” considerations, including employment for community residents.
Chief Day said water usage will be monitored and it is unclear if user fees will be required to cover the plant’s operational costs.