FNHA Drinking Water Safety Program
Access to safe and reliable drinking water is essential to individual and population health. The Drinking Water Safety Program 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 Drinking Water Safety Program team, FNHA Environmental Health Officers can:
The FNHA provides small grants to support community-led events that help protect and celebrate the importance of water, particularly drinking water, in the community.
The “Our Community, Our Water" grant helps to enhance community understanding and preservation of drinking water sources and also highlight the work of members of community, including community-based water monitors and water treatment plant operators, in providing safe drinking water.
Communities are 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.
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.
In 2016, 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 and allied staff who also facilitated planning, marketing and delivering each event. Since the launch of the grant, over 65 First Nations across BC have participated in hosting water awareness events.
FNHA's environmental health officers and 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.
Community-based water monitors 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, a water treatment plant operator, 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 or an FNHA environmental health technician.
Environmental Health Officers 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 water monitors, band administration and the Drinking Water Safety Program team have access. Community-based drinking water programs have been established for all interested communities.