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Drinking Water Safety Program

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Access to safe and reliable drinking water is essential to individual and population health. The Drinking Water Safety Program (DWSP) supports access to safe drinking water by working in partnership with First Nations communities.

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Chief and Council are responsible for planning and development of capital facilities, which provide basic infrastructure needs such as drinking water. Community leadership is also responsible for day-to-day operation of water and wastewater systems, which includes sampling and testing of drinking water.

As part of the DWSP team, FNHA Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) can:

• Conduct drinking water system inspections and test drinking water for bacteriological, chemical, physical and radiological parameters to meet Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality

• Interpret drinking water quality results

• Provide guidance and recommendations to communities about drinking water safety issues, such as boil water advisories (BWAs) including do not consume (DNC) and do not use (DNU) advisories

• Provide training for community-based water monitors (CBWMs) to collect and send water samples for testing; and, where available, analyze samples using in-community testing equipment 

• Review plans for new or upgraded community water systems

• Provide information and support on safe drinking water practices and risk prevention to Chief and Council and community members

• Investigate waterborne illnesses.


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​Community-based Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Program

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Community-based water monitors (CBWMs) support local capacity to monitor water quality and to increase awareness and ownership of water systems. Water monitors play a key role as those responsible for sampling, testing, recording and communicating the microbiological quality of treated water in communities. Water monitors are also responsible for developing and implementing a drinking water quality awareness program.

The water monitor may be a community health representative (CHR), water treatment plant operator (WTPO), or another individual selected by Chief and Council. If a community does not have a water monitor, their work may be done by an environmental health officer (EHO) or an FNHA environmental health technician.

EHOs train water monitors to sample and test the drinking water for potential bacteriological contamination using community lab equipment (Colilert®). ​WaterTrax®, an internet-based data management system, is used to manage all drinking water quality data to which the CBWM, Band Administration, and the Drinking Water Safety Program (DWSP) team have access. Community-based drinking water programs have been established for all interested communities.​


​​Our Community, Our Water – Water Awareness Grants​

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In August 2016, FNHA launched water awareness as grant funding to support community-led events which help protect and celebrate the importance of water, particularly drinking water, in the community. This year, 24 communities, representing all regions of BC, participated. Communities were asked to share how they would stage a fun and educational event highlighting drinking water that would meet community needs and involve all members of the community. A wide variety of events were organized by community health representatives, community-based water monitors (CBWM) and allied staff who also facilitated planning, marketing and delivering each event.
 
FNHA’s Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and EH Technicians were on hand at many events to deliver presentations on community water systems, source water protection, treatment of drinking water and the role of an EHO in community as it relates to drinking water.

The “Our Community, Our Water” grant opportunity provides a way to enhance community understanding and preservation of drinking water sources and also highlight the work of members of community, including CBWMs and Water Treatment Plant Operators, in providing safe drinking water. This grant opportunity will be re-launched in late spring 2017.​

Learn more about the water awareness grants and find out how to apply here


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