Shoal Lake

First Nation Lifts 24-Year Drinking Water Advisory

After 24 years under a boil water advisory, Shoal Lake #40 First Nation has access to clean, potable water. The community came together to deliver this project, which was tendered to include 53 percent local labour. Learn more about this award-winning community project and our role.


Shoal Lake #40 First Nation


Shoal Lake #40, Ontario

Project Scale

$33 Million

Improving quality of life

Shoal Lake #40 First Nation straddles the border between Manitoba and Ontario and is situated approximately 160 kilometres west of Winnipeg. The community’s aging pump houses didn’t meet federal standards or provincial regulations for safe water distribution, leaving its residents living under a series of long-term drinking water advisories for more than 20 years.

For decades, the community’s only access to clean, potable water was through barge, winter road or water crossing from Shoal Lake #39. Shoal Lake #40 First Nation worked tirelessly to conduct feasibility studies to find a reliable, efficient and cost-effective solution that would provide its residents with long-term access to safe drinking water. The First Nation completed construction of Freedom Road in 2019, improving access to the reserve and enabling them to examine the cost-efficiency of constructing and maintaining a water treatment plant.

In addition to building its first water treatment plant, Shoal Lake #40 First Nation installed a low-level pumping station and lake intake; diesel backup electrification system; fire hydrants; a reinforced concrete reservoir; a water distribution network; and fire protection sprinklers for the existing school, community centre and arena buildings.

Hear more from Shoal Lake #40's plant operators.

Building relationships

In collaboration with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Shoal Lake #40 First Nation selected Colliers Project Leaders to provide comprehensive project management services for the delivery of the water treatment plant and its associated assets.

Our team worked closely with the Shoal Lake #40 Chief and Council to better understand the community’s concerns and foster a collaborative working relationship. This project was unique in a few ways; it was a pilot project to see whether an Indigenous-specific tender process could better serve Indigenous communities, and the project team had to manage the project amidst the onset of COVID-19 restrictions. We worked in partnership with Shoal Lake #40 to ensure the project’s success, from implementing health and safety policies and procedures, to mitigating supply chain and scheduling challenges.

The entire project team’s dedication and collaboration truly made a difference in the lives of Shoal Lake #40’s residents. Our team was proud to support the community and help successfully employ or source 53 percent First Nations labour and operations staff to deliver this project.

In September 2021, we joined Shoal Lake #40 First Nation at the grand opening of its new water treatment plant and helped celebrate the end of the community’s 24-year long-term drinking water advisory.

Shoal Lake