News release

Glooscap and Hantsport Co-operate on Water Project

ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS--Glooscap and Hantsport Co-operate on Water Project


Some people believe Friday the thirteenth is an unlucky day. Janis Walker, band manager of the Glooscap First Nation, considers that date in August 2004 very lucky. It was the day her house was hooked up to the Hantsport water system.

After years of living on unreliable well water, the new system was quite a treat. "I did a load of wash and the water didn't turn everything brown. I'm a happy camper."

Until recently, water problems were a way of life for Glooscap residents. Existing wells were failing and the quality of producing wells was sub-standard. Six years ago the band realized that something had to be done.

Studies were undertaken to identify the problem and to suggest solutions. "We needed another source of water," said Ms. Walker. "We could either build our own main source or try to hook up with Hantsport." The band decided to see if a deal could be made with the town of Hantsport.

At the same time Hantsport was having water problems of its own. Town water was chlorinated but not treated. Although the system was upgraded over the years "parts of our system dated back to 1906," said Mayor Wayne Folker. He remembered discussions of a complete overhaul taking place as far back as the early 1970s. When the Glooscap First Nation came to talk, the town was ready to listen.

The town had no basic objection to having Glooscap hook up to its water supply, said Jeff Lawrence, the town's chief administrative officer, especially since the town's supply line went right past Glooscap on its way to Hantsport. When Glooscap offered to fund the study of the Hantsport water system, the project was off and running.

The study determined that an upgraded system that would serve both Hantsport and Glooscap was feasible. But Davidson Lake, the town's water source, needed to be deepened around the intake pipe and the transmission pipe from the lake needed to be enlarged.

Knowing full well the pitfalls that can hinder a cross- jurisdictional project such as this, the band and the town decided to forge ahead. Said Mr. Folker: "Chief Shirley Clarke and I decided we would proceed with the thing until we run into a brick wall."

Fortunately, no brick wall appeared. The project enjoyed the full support of both communities, said the mayor. "The level of co- operation has been terrific. There have been a lot of hurdles but one by one we're getting over them."

Band manager Walker agrees. She said all participants in the project were kept up to date with regular meetings and surprises were avoided. "It's been great."

She said the new system will bring growth back to Glooscap. The band halted construction on new homes once the project was firmly in place; it did not make sense for a homeowner to have the expense of drilling a well that would only be used for a few years. Ms. Walker said she hopes the new system will also encourage businesses to consider setting up on Glooscap land. "It gives us a boost."

Joint funding of projects can be a problem, but both the band and the town say it hasn't been here. Glooscap funded 100 per cent of the work required to deepen the lake and enlarge the transmission pipe (a total of about $1.8 million). Construction of the new water treatment plant, which is just across the road from the Glooscap First Nation, cost $1.6 million, with the band paying 40 per cent and the town paying 60 per cent. The town is responsible for the ongoing replacement of deteriorating pipes in its aging water distribution system.

"It's been an interesting couple of years," said Mr. Lawrence, "but I couldn't be happier with the level of co-operation between the band and the town."

Glooscap's request came at just the right time for Hantsport. "Eventually we would have been forced to upgrade our system," said Mr. Folker. "This project has allowed us to get ahead of the deadlines." The town and Glooscap now have water that exceeds the standards established for 2008.

In addition to the two principals, this $3.2-million project involved a veritable alphabet soup of government departments and agencies. Indian Affairs, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Nova Scotia Health, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Nova Scotia Environment and Labour as well as an engineering consultant firm and four sub-contractors, all played roles in the successful development of this project.

"One hand washes the other" is an expression used to indicate how important it is to work together. Now, because of co-operation, when one hand washes the other in the Glooscap-Hantsport area, they'll be washing with treated water.

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Contact:

John Soosaar
Aboriginal Affairs 902-424-3063 E-mail:
jal            September 16, 2004       10:21 A.M.