ARCHIVED - Backgrounder – Water and Wastewater Services in the Island Lake Region


This website will change as a result of the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the creation of Indigenous Services Canada and the eventual creation of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. During this transformation, you may also wish to consult the updated Indigenous and Northern Affairs home page.

Archive: This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived information is provided for reference, research or record keeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.


The Island Lake region of Manitoba includes the First Nations of St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Red Sucker Lake and Garden Hill.

Until the late 1990s, the Island Lake area relied on diesel generation for electricity. Investing in upgrades to community water and wastewater treatment systems geared to diesel was not feasible, as the electrical demands of these systems exceeded diesel generation capacity. The North Central Hydro grid connection was put into service in 1999.

The location of these communities, on the Canadian Shield, makes piped systems more costly to install.

Additionally, many houses in the Island Lake communities do not have indoor plumbing and in some cases there is no space for a bathroom. Houses must be retrofitted with indoor plumbing before they can be connected to water and wastewater systems. This requires additional time, funds, and considerable planning.

However, progress is being made. Since landline hydro was installed in the area, substantial investments have been made in the water and wastewater infrastructure in the Island Lake communities, totaling approximately $94 million to date as of October 2012.

Since April 1, 2006, the federal government has made investments of $50.1 million to improve and maintain water and waste water systems in the Island Lake communities. Major investments included $26.7 million for a piped water distribution and sewage collection system at Garden Hill, and $9.2 million for a water treatment plant, two water trucks and a sewage truck at Red Sucker Lake. In 2011–2012 and 2012–2013 AANDC committed $6.9 million toward improved water and wastewater services for all four Island Lake communities. Funds supported the purchase of 13 water/sewage trucks and building materials for garages, water tanks, sewer tanks and building materials to retrofit up to 100 homes.

In addition, funding is being provided to all four communities to update water and wastewater feasibility studies. These updates will present options and the costs associated with providing running water and wastewater services to all serviceable houses.

There are two water and wastewater projects for the Island Lake region identified on the regional First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plan. The projects are water and waste water servicing upgrades for St. Theresa Point First Nation and Garden Hill First Nation. Planning at this point is preliminary and subject to change.

As with households in other rural and remote communities, there are houses on First Nations where piped water distribution is not feasible. While piped service is not feasible for all homes, all households have access to treated water from a water treatment plant through truck to cisterns or standpipes.

Through the Drinking Water Safety Program, Health Canada works in partnership with First Nations communities to ensure drinking water is monitored according to the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.

Figure 1: Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Investments in Island Lake
First Nation Year Project $ 
Million (M)
Thousands (K)
Garden Hill 1995 School project (pipes and sewage treatment plant for school) 2.0 M
1997 water treatment plant 4.3 M
2001 sewage treatment plant 6.0 M
Piped water distribution and sewage collection system (Central and South area) 26.7 M
2010 New water & sewer trucks, water barrels & black water pails 255.5k
2011 New water & sewer truck 543.5k
2012 Water & sewer feasibility study update 115.0k
St. Theresa Point 1996 Wastewater treatment plant 2.9 M
1999 Water treatment plant, wastewater treatment plant, truck garage, water truck, sewer truck, water and sewer piping 10.9 M
2010 New water & sewer trucks, water barrels & black water pails 264.0k
2004 Piped water distribution and sewage collection system 10.8 M
2011 New water & sewer truck 549.8k
2012 Water & sewer feasibility study update 100.0k
Wasagamack 1996 Sewage treatment plant 1.3 M
1997 Water treatment plant, truck garage, minor piping 4.6 M
2005 Piped water distribution and sewage collection system, water truck 8.7 M
2010 New water & sewer trucks, water barrels & black water pails 242.0k
2011 New water & sewer truck 216.5k
2012 Water & sewer feasibility study update 61.2k
Red Sucker Lake 2000 Sewage treatment plant 3.5 M
2010 Water treatment plant, two water trucks, sewage truck 9.2 M
2010 New water & sewer trucks, water barrels & black water pails 238.5k
2011 New sewer truck 107.3k
2012 Water & sewer feasibility study update 82.2k
Island Lake Tribal Council 2011 Island Lake First Nations/Water-Sewage Services Report 79.8k
2011 Housing plumbing retrofits – material purchase & delivery 1.5 M
2012 Water & sewer truck garages 7.0 M
  Total 93.8 M