The northern communities of Pikwitonei, Thicket Portage and Nelson House are partnering with the Manitoba government to improve access to timely testing of water quality samples by establishing a pilot bacteriological water testing site in Thompson, Manitoba. The province has invested $30,000 in supplying a TECTA machine to the Thompson testing facility. The self-contained unit is used to analyze water samples for bacteria. Water samples are collected and then delivered to the testing facility, where the machine analyzes the samples automatically and reports results directly to the Office of Drinking Water. This minimizes the chance of error based on previous strict time lines and temperature limitations specified for bacteriological analysis when transporting test samples. If bacteria is found in the water sample, an early warning notice is sent out, allowing for a faster response to adverse water quality tests.
The three northern Indigenous communities currently involved in the project may be expanded to include additional remote communities.
“I am on board with this new testing arrangement in Thompson,” Mayor Brenda Flett, Community of Pikwitonei. “It was always an issue getting water samples to Winnipeg. Samples would get lost or would be no good when they arrived. Having the testing location closer will allow us to get results faster with easier delivery.”
The testing facility is a cross-departmental collaboration between Manitoba Environment, Climate and Parks and Manitoba Indigenous, Reconciliation and Northern Relations working in partnership with northern communities to increase bacteria sampling compliance requirements and reduce boil water advisories.