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Wabigoon Lake picks up two more water taste awards in 2013

Thursday January 9, 2014

Wabigoon Lake’s two awards in 2013 for best tasting water is Wawatay’s #1 Health story of the year.

“That was definitely something,” said Marcel Shabaquay, Wabigoon Lake’s water plant operator, after Wabigoon Lake won the 2013 Water Taste Challenge award on Oct. 25 at the North Western Ontario Water and Wastewater Conference.

“Phil Tangie and a couple of other tribal council (representatives) were sitting around with me just kind of waiting for them to (choose the winners) — they went from third, then second, and we were still there, Wabigoon Lake, and sure enough they said: ‘The first place winner is Wabigoon Lake First Nation.’”

The Treaty #3 community also won the Mandamin Cup for best water in the north at the Aboriginal Water and Wastewater Association of Ontario’s 18th Annual Conference and AGM in March 2013.

“To take that water and its colour and win for the best water quality for this community takes a lot of doing,” said former Wabigoon Lake chief Ruben Cantin after the Mandamin Cup win. “When the dam was built at the turn of the century, it was a clear water lake. But when it was raised nine-and-a-half feet, you could really see the turbidity of the water. When it’s a windy day, you can put your hand in the water and you can’t even see it.”

After winning the Water Taste Challenge for the second straight year at the North Western Ontario Water and Wastewater Conference, Shabaquay said the Water Taste Challenge officials asked him questions about his treatment plant and the winning water.

“They were asking questions about what type of water treatment plant we have and did we do anything special to the water before the conference,” said Shabaquay, who holds a Class 1 water treatment certificate from Bimose’s NTPF water training program. “There’s nothing that we do differently for the water when I take it in (for the Water Taste Challenge). I just grab it right out of the tap like how it says to do on the form. It says just grab four litres of water and keep it chilled until you enter it in.”

Shabaquay said the community’s Facebook page “was lighting up” after the award was announced and the community’s school has since asked for another tour of the water treatment plant.
“The students are starting to hear that we have real good tasting water and that we have won these awards, so they are interested in the water treatment plant now,” Shabaquay said.

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