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