The Neqotkuk First Nation project: When safe drinking water promotes community growth

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As Canadians, we’re fortunate to live in a country where we expect fresh, safe drinking water to flow steadily from our taps. However, not everyone enjoys such ready access; many First Nation communities lack a safe water supply or the robust infrastructure needed to deliver it

Englobe was pleased to help one community remediate this situation, through its recent partnership with the Neqotkuk First Nation in New Brunswick. Located on the north side of the Tobique River near the Maine border, Neqotkuk First Nation is a vibrant, 2,000-resident community dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles while advancing its education, culture and traditions to secure opportunities for its next seven generations.

Strong partners and unique challenges 


The project’s key objective was to increase the water supply’s reliability and raise its quality. Our team was mandated to provide detailed design, construction inspection, and management services for a new water treatment facility and distribution line to serve part of the Neqotkuk community. 

A second – but no less significant – project objective was to offer professional development and skill-building opportunities for members of the Neqotkuk First Nation. In this regard, our team exceeded expectations by engaging the community with meaningful learning and supporting our Indigenous mentees in culturally appropriate ways. 

Engaging the project’s many stakeholders (including the community of Neqotkuk, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), and Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA)) was a unique challenge. We were able to align the project’s objectives with desired outcomes by ensuring the new plant met all expectations, providing continuous oversight, creating a shared plan for success, and communicating openly.

Photo by Carr Sappier

Delivering on many fronts 

Our team was able to successfully deliver on both objectives. Commissioned in November 2023, the new water system is a point of pride for the community, delivering safe, clean drinking water and significantly improved capacity. The new infrastructure includes drilled wells, well pumps and a new well building, a 1.5km distribution line from this building to the new water treatment facility, and updated technology that was automated wherever possible. 

The project also delivered many social and economic benefits to the community. The project employed local flaggers, heavy machinery operators, labourers, and other construction support staff, who quickly became valued members of the team. We emphasized hands-on training and practical experience to ensure these workers developed transferable skills that would benefit the community in the future.

A positive outcome for the Neqotkuk First Nation community 

Today, the community enjoys a water supply and distribution system which not only complies with regulatory requirements, but reliably serves the community’s needs. With this critical infrastructure in place, Neqotkuk can now confidently move forward with long-planned developments to address the need for additional housing and economic growth. In addition, employing community members for our project team effectively created a local work force able to take on future construction projects within their own community.

We were very pleased at how the Neqotkuk project worked out. Its spin-off benefits cannot be understated and will have long-lasting impacts on the local community and region.

notes Bruce Baird, Vice President Expertise, Atlantic Canada

On the strength of these positive outcomes, this project was recently honoured with the 2024 Engineering Excellence Award from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – New Brunswick Chapter (ACEC-NB). The awards serve to highlight the valuable contributions of New Brunswick’s Consulting Engineers in their work at home and abroad. 

We must act upon the realization that water is not only a resource to be used and competed over – it is a human right, intrinsic to every aspect of life. (United Nations) World Water Day, March 22

Englobe is recognized as Canada’s leader in the fields of environmental management, engineering, and asset integrity and quality management.

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