A remote First Nation just off Vancouver Island’s west coast is celebrating the completion of a new $25-million treatment plant designed to provide adequate wastewater collection.
The Ahousaht First Nation on Flores Island has about 740 members living at Maaqtusiis Reserve No. 15, where the new wastewater treatment plant is located, according to the Government of Canada.
In a news release Wednesday, government officials say the plant opened this year and accommodates up to 1,300 people, supporting future population growth while replacing an old septic tank treatment plant that did not properly protect seafood or meet regulatory standards.
“As an oceanic people, our marine ecosystem and aquatic food systems are integral and interconnected to our way of life,” said Ahousaht Chief John Rampanen (n̓aasʔałuk).
“The improvements offered through this updated wastewater treatment facility will not only sustain our efforts to enhance and protect our environment, it will also greatly improve our quality of life,” said Chief Rampanen.
The new plant, which also provides secondary (biological) treatment with disinfection and marine disposal, meets both federal and provincial wastewater regulations and will be maintained by trained operators from the First Nation.
“This larger infrastructure will have the capacity to support future population growth in the community and support seafood safety by protecting local marine ecosystems,” the federal government added in its release.
Through Indigenous Services Canada, the government says it provided $25 million for the treatment plant, which included a new wastewater pump station, force main, operational buildings and marine outfall pipe.
It’s one of 873 water and wastewater-related infrastructure projects benefiting a total of 587 First Nations communities across Canada, with 454 projects completed since December of last year.