By the end of the year 2015, Tyendinaga’s landscape on the corner of Norway Road and Ridge Road will be significantly different. Currently, it’s a serene open field that houses a few lazy cows, trees and a small stream. In the not too distant future, however, construction of phase one of a $20.8 million water treatment plant begins. The funds were approved by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Affairs Development on November 18, 2013.
When the water treatment plant is up and running, service will move east of Norway Road towards Airport Road. The frontrunners in receiving service will be the homes on Ridge Road east of Norway Road, Quinte Mohawk School, Tyendinaga Police Station, Kanhiote Library, Community Well Being and the brand new Band Administration building. Unfortunately, the people living just west of the building will be out of luck, which includes this author.
In a press release dated November 27, 2013, as a follow up to the announcement of a new water treatment plant, MBQ states, “MBQ water treatment plant design incorporates traditional technology and a Siemen’s membrane system…[this type of] water plant design utilizes dissolved air floatation technology, chemical conditioning, granular activated carbon filtration, UV disinfection and chlorination.” This technology is currently in use at 33, 000 locations worldwide with 12 of those are First Nations communities.
The water treatment plant is a long time in the making, since the “late 80’s, early 90’s” as stated by Lisa Maracle, Director of Community Services. Maracle, who was available at the June 12, 2014 community meeting to answer any land questions, also informed the Two Row Times that in “phase two they (band council) will build an elevated storage reservoir and extend the water pipes to Shannonville.” Currently, there are 785 wells in Tyendinaga, 265 units on the municipal water supply of Deseronto and approximately half of Tyendinaga has a private water treatment system as outlined on the MBQ website.
Water problems have plagued this community since 2008, when a boil water advisory (BWA) went out to all of the 785 well water owners. Apparently, the BWA started because of “water borne parasites (spore forming bacteria) in the ground water, such as cryptosporidium or giardra [that are] potentially life threatening,” as stated on the MBQ website.
Water contamination has become common place in First Nation communities in particular. According to the MBQ website, “water borne parasites could be present in Tyendinaga water due to the compromised nature of the geology which has a shallow overburden with fractured limestone bedrock.” It’s not clear whether this problem is fixable in the foreseeable future.