Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chief extends water ban

York Factory plant can't meet demand

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Potable water was cleared for drinking again in York Factory, a week after the supply was shut down, but the chief of the remote Cree community says the community is still relying on bottled water.

Chief Louisa Constant said the water plant is only able to produce half the community's needs so she's ordered the community of 500 to maintain its drinking-water ban.

Residents are still using bottled water for drinking and bathing babies, children and adults with skin sensitivities until the plant is fully back on line.

Federal health officials lifted an order not to drink or use the water for any purpose other than to flush toilets on Friday.

Saturday, water in the taps was still cloudy.

"Because of continuing issues with cloudy water, taste and limitations in the amount of water being produced, the community and the chief and council do not have confidence in the community water supply," Constant said in a statement this weekend. "That is, while the testing may indicate the water is potable, the water will not be palatable to the community until the cleaning and flushing process is complete."

Federal health officials imposed a ban on using the community water supply Feb. 27. Health officials recommended the water plant undergo a thorough flushing and cleaning process but one of the plant's two filtration screens was down, cutting the plant's capacity in half.

The chief said she'd updated Manitoba's minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Hydro president Scott Thomson and federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt on the situation.

Valcourt's office said earlier this week federal officials were working closely with the community to restore the operation of the plant.

In York Factory, the federal reports were met with dissatisfaction. "The operation of the water system can only be considered "restored," when long-standing upgrades, repairs, equipment replacement and servicing are completed," the chief said in this weekend's statement.

The community's water plant has broken down repeatedly since a lightning strike caused a power surge that damaged a control panel in 1990.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 10, 2014 B3

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