At the household level we turn on our tap and have our crap: Linking housing, water and sewage

There are many linkages between housing, water and sewage. It is at the household level that we turn on our tap and have our crap. If we don’t have running water from a pipe or cistern at the household level this automatic process becomes a daily chore to tote water and dump sewage.  Without pipes the water and sewage has to be physically carried for its different uses. Taking a bath becomes a big chore requiring either visiting the nursing station or heating up many kettles of water to fill a tub.

Lakeisha Harpers’  presentation of Garden Hill housing and water statistics showed that almost a quarter (21%) of households in Garden Hill First Nation still have no running water. This number is from a census of 384 households in the community. Other very disturbing statistics were that only 16% of youth were employed from a survey of yourh in these 384 households.

Jerome Harper’s presentation showed how the sewage and water program got local people working and reduced those people using buckets by installing cisterns. However, the program didn’t result in people succeeding in apprenticeship programs in Wasagamack First Nation (or Garden Hill First Nation), due to lack of training. As well there are still problems with water and sewage with many people still using buckets, as non-CMHC houses were not considered eligible for upgrades, which was an unfortunate government policy.

In addition to people using buckets, the problems with cisterns for water and sewage are numerous. These cisterns are costly to fill water/empty sewage, maintain and service and so do not provide the quality and quantity of water required. With only two sewage and water trucks to service the community of Wasagamack,  people frequently run out of water and have to ration water:   “There are currently two sewage trucks and two water trucks operating in Wasagamack. Each one can only service 10 houses per day as it takes roughly an hour for each, which would add up to 100 houses per week on average. There are certain areas of the reserve where service trucks are having trouble accessing due to poor conditions of some driveways”.  For the sewage cisterns the limited service means sewage can overflow to contaminate nearby areas .

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