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Water Treatment Issues in Aboriginal Communities in Canada
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Water Treatment Issues in Aboriginal Communities in Canada

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  • First nations have a holistic and spiritual attitude towards water. For them it is life-sustaining, a means of transportation and source of food. Wendy Whitecloud (University of Manitoba) states that water also has a critical role as a primary component in any ceremony that takes place at home in first nation communities.
  • The world is facing a global water crisis that is leading to water scarcity for two thirds of the world´s population by the year 2025 according to some estimates. Pollution, climate change and population growth are some of the main drivers of this great threat.
  • Of all the water in the world, 97.5% is saltwater. Only 2.5% of the water in the world is fresh water. Of this fresh water, 69.5% is frozen in glaciers, snow and permafrost; 30.1% is in deep aquifers; 0.4% is surface and atmospheric water (lakes, soil moisture, air humidity, marshes and wetlands, rivers, plants and animals). This leaves only 0.025% of fresh water available for human use.
  • The document Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations propose specific commitment to improve quality of life for people all around the World and specific targets regarding water and sanitation, like sustainable access to safe drinking water. The period 2005-2015 has been proclaimed as the international decade for action “Water for Life”.
  • Access to clean water is not only an issue in the developing world; it is also a problem in many communities across Canada – particularly on First Nations Reserves.
    Responsibility for drinking water on reserves is shared between many players:
  • Of the 89,897 houses on reserves, approximately 2,145 homes have no water service and 4,668 have no sewage service. These homes are located in a number of remote communities.
    Fresh water supply is a matter of health and overall well being between First Nation citizens.
    It should be a priority for Canada to reach 100% of access to clean water.
  • The Plan of Action was announced by the Government with the agreement of AFN (Assembly of First Nations) and INAC. It includes:
    -the Protocol is for use by First Nations staff responsible for water systems.
    -Mandatory training as well as the oversight of certified operators.
    Specific projects for First Nation communities with serious water issues, starting with the twenty-one communities most at risk.
    A panel of experts to advise on the appropriate regulatory framework, including new legislation, developed with all partners.
    A clear commitment to report on progress on a regular basis.
  • In this context, our proposal is a project based on 2 stages. The outcome from Phase 1 is to develop recommendations as to how to proceed with Phase 2.  The Phase 1 outcome will allow to identify projects of potential interest (including location, problem being solved, etc.), road-map as to how to proceed, as well as the budget (availability of matching funds) and other items that would help the service club be successful in their objective of providing  First Nations Communities with reliable, sustainable, cost effective access to safe drinking water using community bases water treatment systems and the Oasis water treatment technology specifically
  • Fresh water supply is a matter of health among First Nation citizens.
    It should be a priority for Canada to reach 100% of access to clean water.
  • Analyze the current situation and identify the most common practices and potential problems regarding drinking water focused on Treaty-7 communities in the South of Alberta.
    So what???? Proposal of safe and sustainable water supply measures for FN communities. This could be directly applied in the Solar Decathlon project 2011 (Team Canada).
    Final recommendations that will support with technical advice the Chiefs-in-Assembly resolution (AFN, 2005) regarding the protection of fresh water sources.

    Solutions that will result in adequate supply of high quality drinking water to all First Nations households in Canada.

    Cost analysis: determine payback of a water treatment system; establish how water is typically supplied to the client at present (by trucks, personal wells, community wells).
  • MITAC supports with half the funding required to the internship.
    A Industry partner (OASIS) provides the link with the professional world and assures the market viability of the project.
    The University of Calgary (Faculty of Environmental Design) offers the academic support for the internship.
  • The overall strategy will be based on survey research. The aim is mainly evaluative and the data to be used qualitative and quantitative. The study will be conducted through field trips to aboriginal reserves that will allow observation and interviews. Secondary source will be documentation searching in archives and internet.
    Collected data will include an inventory of water treatment withdraw, storage, treatment and distribution systems (quantifiable data) in the Treaty-7 communities. But inhabitants’ perception of water quality and availability would also be sought (qualitative data).
    The analysis of the data obtained will allow to identify specific targets regarding water treatment plants implementation.
  • with specialization in energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings as well as in efficient-water systems in houses.
    professional experience in Spain and México.
    Currently in her 2nd year of a masters in Environmental Design at the University of Calgary. She has been collaborating in the Solar Decathlon project with Canada Team since May 2010 in the mechanical engineering division and now as the Water Management Lead.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Dr. David Manz & Susana García-San Román Nov. 8, 2010 Calgary
    • 2. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES “Water is life; water is our liquid history... Our relation to water is very sacred and very spiritual”. Andy Nicholas, Tobique First nation (New Brunswick).
    • 3. Global water crisis POLLUTION POPULATION GROWTH CLIMATE CHANGE WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES
    • 4. 97.5% SALT WATER water availability 2.5% FRESH WATER 99.6% GLACIERS, SNOW DEEP AQUIFERS 0.4% LAKES, RIVERS, SOIL MOISTURE, AIR HUMIDITY, WETLANDS … WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES
    • 5. GOALS 2005-2015 International Decade for Action MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS United Nations Water for Life WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES
    • 6. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Federal Government First Nation Band Councils Health Canada Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) provincial and territorial governments Access to clean water in First Nations Reserves
    • 7. 2,145 HOMES WITHOUT WATER SERVICE 4,668 WITHOUT SEWAGE SERVICE Access to clean water in First Nations Reserves HIGH-RISK DRINKING WATER SYSTEMS IN 85 FN COMMUNITIES (JAN. 2008) MORE THAN 60% WATER OPERATORS NOT PROPERLY CERTIFIED 25% OF WATER INFRASTRUCTURES AT HIGH RISK OF CONTAMINATION (MAY. 2003) “DON´T CONSUME” ORDERS IN PLACE IN MORE THAN 90 CANADIAN RESERVES (APR. 2008) WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES
    • 8. Plan of Action for Drinking Water in First Nation communities (March 2006) WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES AFN CANADA GOVERNMENT Report on progress on a regular basis A panel of experts to advise on the appropriate regulatory framework Specific plans for communities with serious water problems Mandatory training for all treatment-plant operators Protocol for Safe Drinking Water
    • 9. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase I Phase II
    • 10. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase I INVESTIGATION Why? RATIONALE. For Health and personal well being among Canadian citizens including the singular cases of the Indian Reserves.
    • 11. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase I INVESTIGATION What? PURPOSE •Analyze the current situation •Proposal of safe and sustainable water supply measures •Technical recommendations regarding the protection of fresh water sources. •Solutions for supply of high quality drinking water to all First Nations households in Canada. •Cost analysis
    • 12. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase I INVESTIGATION How? An internship allows the student to investigate and obtain the data required to implement Phase II of the project. MITACS $7,500 OASIS SPONSOR $7,500 U OF C EVDS Faculty
    • 13. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase I INVESTIGATION How? METHODOLOGY Surveys: observation and interviews with some of the 47 Alberta First Nations water technicians. Research in archives and internet. Inventory of existing water treatment systems in the Reserves
    • 14. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase I INVESTIGATION When? Phase I: 2011 January to April. Data collection and analysis will be performed and the final report will be prepared for submission in May 2011. Phase II: specific project implementation according to targets identified in Phase I.
    • 15. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase I INVESTIGATION Who? Susana García-San Román Architect from Spain Master in Environmental Design candidate 2011 Solar Decathlon Canada Team collaboration
    • 16. WATER TREATMENT ISSUES IN FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES Phase II SPECIFIC PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION Who? OASIS Dr. David Manz
    • 17. Thank you! Questions & Comments welcome!

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