World Water Day: Cooperation and collaboration is key in protecting clean drinking water



​A message from Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, Medical Officer, Environmental Health, FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer; and Samson Wong, Manager, FNHA Environmental Public Health Services

​​“Water for Peace" is the theme for this year's World Water Day, which took place last Friday, March 22. Water plays a critical role in the stability and prosperity of the world. As the United Nations notes, access to clean, safe, and reliable drinking water is a basic human right. When water is polluted, or when people have inequitable or no access to clean water, there are inevitable social, economic and health consequences that lead to tensions between the “haves" and “have-nots." 

Promoting cooperation and collaboration at international, national, provincial, and regional levels is key in protection and equitable access to drinking water. As readily available sources of drinking water become scarce due to factors such as population growth, climate change, and pollution, we need to work together more than ever to ensure we continue to meet everyone's human rights and needs.

First Nations have been front and centre in the fight to protect water. Following the First Nations call for legislative reform on access to clean, safe, and reliable drinking water in Canada, the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Class Action Settlement Agreement was established in December 2021. The changes affirm “recognition of rights, including jurisdiction in relation to drinking water, wastewater, and related infrastructure on First Nations lands; advancing long-term sustainable funding through fiscal arrangements and consultation on fiscal allocation decisions; facilitating trilateral source water protection agreements; and providing pathways for ongoing engagement."

In BC, 91 municipal-operated drinking water systems provide drinking water to First Nations communities, nine First Nations-operated water systems provide drinking water to non-First Nations communities, and two First Nations-operated water systems share drinking water with their neighbouring First Nations communities. These are examples of success in establishing agreements for access to drinking water.

It is important to support the establishment of new drinking water agreements and to continue to provide support for the existing agreements, as these are often the most cost-effective way of providing access to drinking water. We are pleased to report that according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, British Columbia has the highest number of drinking water service agreements and the most interest in establishing new agreements in Canada.

As a health and wellness partner to First Nations in BC, the FNHA is continuing work across BC on this critically important issue. You can read about some of our programs and partnerships at these links:

​The FNHA congratulates Warren Brown, Drinking Water System Operator in Lytton First Nation, BC. Warren is the recipient of the Government of Canada’s 2023 National First Nations Water Leadership Award. 

The FNHA also recognizes all the other Drinking Water System Operators in First Nations communities. Each one plays a vital role in ensuring access to clean, safe, and reliable drinking water.​

Helpful Resources:

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