MISTISSINI ENVIRONMENTAL PROFILE

Prepared by: Elijah Awashish, LEA

DRINKING WATER SOURCE

The community of Mistissini is located on the northern tip of a 20 km peninsula near Mistassini Lake. This Cree village has a population of 3000 permanent residents living in 575 fully serviced residential units.

The Cree Nation of Mistissini presently uses surface water from an adjacent bay as its drinking water source. A new intake pipe was extended to 350 m into the bay to minimize chances of contamination by human activities and community surface drainage. In the summer of 2002, the community experienced several problems with surface drainage contamination of drinking water. The community is developing rapidly, requiring vast stripping of natural areas. This eliminates natural drainage filters thus surface water is drained directly in the same water body as the intake. Turbidity becomes a major problem, despite efforts to redirect drainage. The Cree Nation of Mistissini is considering several options to address this problem.

DRINKING WATER TREATMENT AND DISTRIBUTION

The drinking water treatment plant was renovated in 2000 including a 350 m intake, which extends near the center of the bay adjacent to the community. The pumping station pumps an average of 1200 cubic meters of treated water daily with two lead 60 hp pumps. There is a 50 hp compensating pump and a fire booster pump to serve as back up units. The treatment plant is equiped with updated recording and monitoring equipment. This includes a fully automated programmable chlorination system that adjusts to flow variances. Chlorination is the only treatment presently used by the Cree Nation of Mistissini. The Operation & Maintenance team ensures the proper function of the system through daily testing of chlorine levels (free & total), pH, and turbidity.

The LEA performs weekly bacterial monitoring and results are transmitted to provincial authorities, the CRA, and the Cree Health Board.

WASTEWATER TREATMENT

The wastewater generated by the community is collected by a sewer network pumped by four lift stations rated between 20-60 hp towards the treatment facility. The wastewater is presently treated in two aerated lagoons at the northern end of the community. There are two additional aerated lagoons under construction that are scheduled for operation in June 2003. The treated water is then discharged directly into the nearby lake. The construction works also involved the upgrade of the service building containing monitoring equipment and chemical agents used in the treatment process (reduction of phosphorus).

SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT

The municipal waste disposal site is located 14 km southeast of the community along the main access road on Category III lands. This in-trench waste disposal site was developed in 1995 after a thorough review of several potential sites. The Cree Nation of Mistissini submitted its environmental impact study to the provincial government that later issued a certificate of authorization. The selection of the site was based on environmental, economic, and social factors. Community consultations took place both during the planning and review stages of the project. The site is expected to last 15 years, as planned. The permit obtained from the provincial government prohibits burning of waste; a practice used for many years by site operators. The operators ensure proper trenching and burial of waste periodically.

COMMUNITY-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS & PROJECTS

The community of Mistissini currently offers several environmentally driven services. Although common in southern urban centers, it is important to note such services often represent heavier financial investments due to distance and absence of services within the region.

There are aluminum and plastic bottle crushing/recycling machines at the local grocery store that provides refunds on deposits. This machine alone required a sizable investment from the Cree Nation of Mistissini and has improved the aesthetic quality of our community. Children are the greatest contributors to the success of this initiative.

Community members and organizations have access to a waste oils collection facility located at the municipal garage of the Cree Nation of Mistissini. These oils including motor oils, hydraulic oils, and anti-freeze/coolants stored at the facility and recycled by various regional recyclers.

Hazardous waste such as batteries, paints and solvents can be stored at a nearby band facility for disposal later. There is a regional recycler that collects waste in the area periodically. This reduces the disposal of these dangerous/hazardous waste in the surrounding environment.

Residential units built by the Cree Nation of Mistissini have integrated landscaping in the construction costs of units. This means all new units are landscaped leveled lawns. This practice was finally agreed to after lobbying from community members and organizations and has resulted in a much more pleasing community environment. Traditionally, band housing often meant the construction of identical row housing on a barren stretch of leveled sand.