OHSWEKEN – Six Nations is inviting the public to celebrate a major advance in technology as it hosts a grand opening ceremony Friday for the newly completed water treatment plant at 2614 Pauline Johnson Rd.
Elected Chief Ava Hill, former chief Bill Montour, members of Six Nations elected band council and water plant operator Steve Lickers will welcome Bernard Valcourt, federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Brant MP Phil McColeman and Brant MPP Dave Levac for the ceremony, which starts at 11 a.m., with a reception at noon.
The water plant has been the subject of more than a decade of lobbying by Six Nations council, which sought to overhaul a facility that was becoming increasingly obsolete and served only the immediate community of Ohsweken.
In 2006, helped by former Brant MP Lloyd St. Amand, the former Paul Martin minority government made a $10-million commitment for a plant.
The elected council was working on a long-range plan to resolve longstanding contaminated well-water problems in the rural Tuscarora Township area by running water pipes along each line to serve all households, and put the plant in a position to serve residential and commercial development.
After delays, the Stephen Harper government approved a larger plant and there was a sod-turning ceremony on April 16, 2010, for what would become a $41-million facility. It would treat 700,000 litres of water a day and be able to serve 6,600 homes.
The federal contribution was stated at $26 million. Six Nations band council is negotiating with the federal government over the remainder of the cost.
The plant was designed by First Nations Engineering Services Ltd., with construction managed by Diverse Technical Services.
In operation in the past two months, the plant currently serves fewer than 500 homes in Ohsweken.
It is expected to provide water to an 800-unit subdivision planned for the northern tip of Six Nations, with more plans to extend pipes to I.L. Thomas and Oliver M. Smith elementary schools, and the Oneida Business Park.
There are 2,674 housing units located on Six Nations with a population of 11,297, Rural areas of the reserve include 2,279 of the housing units
About 2,190 homes are still not served by the public system.
“We still don't have the pipes but it's our long-term plan to put them in and serve the whole area,” Hill said in an interview