Every water treatment plant in the Northwest Territories is meeting national guidelines, according to a news release sent out by the territorial and federal government.

This news comes despite the fact Hay River city councillors were told their water treatment plant could not deal with the turbidity in the towns water in a meeting last month.

The approval of Wekweètì’s new water plant, means the federal and territorial government “achieve a goal” that was implemented after the Walkerton E. Coli outbreaks in 1999. 

“Improving the quality of water in the Northwest Territories is imperative to the North. This is a proud moment,” Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Paulie Chinna said in a statement.

The statement said there are no more simple truck fill stations – where trucked in water was treated with chlorine and went unfiltered – providing drinking water to communities in the NT. Every community has access to water which has undergone filtered water treatment.

All 30 NWT water plants are now operated by local residents employed by the community government, it adds. Twenty-three of those plants have certified local operators.

Since 2001, 16 communities have constructed new water treatment plants and an additional seven have gone through retrofits or upgrades to health standards.

“Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality are a moving target, often with multiple updates in a given year,” Jay Boast, a communications planning specialist with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), said in an email. “All new or upgraded water treatment plants are built to meet guidelines at the time of their construction. 

“Our work is not done. We continue to work with communities to assess needs and plan appropriate upgrades.

A MACA report presented to Hay River city council in October found that its water treatment plant, built in 1986, was not able to consistently treat Hay River’s water.

“While the current plant does have a filtration system, due to the age and changing water conditions, the plant is challenged at times to keep up with turbidity,” Boast said in an email.

MACA recommended Hay River start building a new water treatment plant within five years, at a cost of $15 million.

The current facility can still work in some circumstances, Justin Hazenberg, the Engineering Team Lead for Water and Sanitation for the GNWT said in a meeting with Hay River councillors.

But isn’t equipped for Hay River’s water quality, he added.

“It might be appropriate for an Arctic lake that’s pristine that never sees any run-off, but for your situation it just can’t keep up,” said Hazenberg.