Here, in Canada, we assume that our water is always safe to drink, and that we have a constant supply... after all, Canada has over 21% of the world's fresh water, which represents 85% of the fresh water in North America. We may be aware of the fact that 1.1 billion people do not have sufficient access to safe water, and that 2.6 billion people have no access at all to sanitation and clean water. But here in Canada? We're fine, right? Wrong...
According to Health Canada, as of April 30 th , 2011 there were 122 First Nations communities across Canada under a Drinking Water Advisory ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/promotion/public-publique/water-eau-eng.php ).
As of May 17 th , 2011, www.water.ca reported the following Drinking Water Advisories (Boil Water Advisories and Do Not Consume Orders) across Canada: 265 - BC; 12 - AB; 253 - SK; 103 - MB; 111 - ON; 141 - QC; 180 - NL; 8 - NB; 63 - NS; 1 - PE; 2 - YT/NT/NU.
Maybe the Communities with BWAs are the Lucky Ones!
SDWF scientists have helped many communities with drinking water problems that were not accurately or competently addressed by Health Canada including communities that had been wrongly advised that their water was safe when, in reality, they should have been on a BWA!
Some communities are struggling with pollution issues - trichloroethylene in Beckwith, Ont.; trihalomethanes and other surface water contaminants in SK; nitrates in NS; etc. Canada uses many pesticides which have never been properly assessed and continue to be used in spite of increasing and overwhelming scientific evidence that they cause cellular damage and death. Per year, Canada has over 90 000 water-related illnesses and ~ 90 water-related deaths (Source: www.ecojustice.ca , Oct. 2006).
Bottled water is a temporary solution for some people, but it is only a band-aid, and represents another concern about water. Not only does it have a significant negative impact on the environment (removing large quantities of water from one source, putting it in plastic, using energy to transport it, etc.), but it is not well-regulated. Of the 18 regulations pertaining to bottled water, only 3 deal with the actual quality of water (the rest are marketing and labeling) and inspections take place every 12 - 18 months. The regulations do NOT test for nor detect chemical contaminants.
The SDWF helps people become more aware and knowledgeable, they have developed over 50 comprehensive Fact Sheets covering everything from waterborne illnesses to social justice issues around water, to climate change and chlorination - all of which are free and downloadable from the website. Students, as our future citizens, must become fully literate in environmental issues if they are going to be properly prepared to make informed decisions for themselves and others.
Available Programs: Operation Water Drop, Operation Water Pollution, Operation Water Biology, Operation Community Water Footprint, Operation Water Health, Operation Water Flow and Operation Water Spirit.
We are honoured to have been recognized as Environmental Programs of Excellence by Green Street from 2002-2010.
We are now Imagineaction experts (the new program which has replaced Green Street).
Elementary teachers can demonstrate eight scientific tests on their own community drinking water: alkalinity, ammonia, colour, copper, total hardness, total chlorine, pH and sulphate.
High School teachers can guide their students to work in groups and test for the above eight compounds, as well as an additional five analytical tests: arsenic, heterotrophic plate count, iron, manganese and nitrate.
In the High School kits, students can compare their local water to three other sample waters as well as to a control medium.
The other water samples should include an urban treated drinking water, a rural treated drinking water and a raw untreated source water, and then students will compare results from these water samples to their own community’s drinking water.
Water samples from an urban treated drinking water, a rural treated drinking water and a raw untreated source water are available on request from the SDWF, with a fee to cover postage of $20 for high schools.
To encourage students to develop “critical thinking skills” which will empower them to become actively involved in issues such as ensuring safe drinking water within their community, and on a global scale.
Lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations and all resources are available online. All material is downloaded by the teacher for review prior to receiving the TDS and pH meters.
The cost of Operation Water Pollution is $140 and includes both a digital TDS and a digital pH meter. It should be noted that each meter is reusable and remains viable for approximately two years. Many school kits are available free of charge as a result of different sponsors such as TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Imagineaction.
Students develop definitions of polluted drinking water that serve
as the backbone for the other lessons in this program.
A series of eight lesson plans designed for use with students in grades nine to 12.
Directly connects with science, chemistry and biology curricula.
Covers a few different aspects of drinking water treatment; the major topics are chlorine, chloramine, ammonia and iron. For each of these there is a discussion explaining what it is and its importance to
drinking water treatment. There are also lab activities for each which allow students to work with small amounts of these substances and see them in action.
Students will demonstrate the idea of chlorine demand, create chloramine through a simple chemical reaction, test local samples of drinking water for chlorine and ammonia and filter water samples with iron oxidized by different processes to determine if one is superior.
Every lesson includes additional suggested activities and resources, along with references to other sources of information.
Lesson plans and all resources are available online. All resources are downloaded by the teacher for review prior to receiving the OWB kit. OWB kits are sent on the same distribution dates as OWD kits.
The cost of Operation Water Biology is $140. Many school kits are available free of charge as a result of different sponsors such as TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Imagineaction.
Students will learn about the chemical reactions and biological interactions involved in drinking water treatment processes and understand how useful and important applied science can be. Students will have interesting, meaningful, and educational laboratory experiences. Students will develop an appreciation for environmentally friendly engineering solutions and an interest in pursuing scientific endeavors.
Designed for use with students in grades six to 12.
Directly connects with science, social studies and math curricula and is set up as content-integrated lessons.
Students learn about their local drinking water treatment facility and distribution system by undertaking a research project as a class.
Students will calculate how much water (source water) is needed in order to produce one litre of drinking water in their community (including water used in the treatment process, water lost in distribution, etc.).
“ Put Your School on the Map” is on the SDWF website: http://www.safewater.org/education/put-your-community-on-the-map.html . This application allows students to put a pin on a map of Canada with information about their community’s water footprint, water related issues being faced by their community, and details on the actions they are taking to alleviate the problems and/or to inform others. Each pin placed by different schools will be displayed on the map so that students can compare their results to those of other communities across Canada.
How it works
Lesson plans and all resources such as the web application that will calculate your community’s water footprint and the “Put Your School on the Map” application are available online, free of charge.
There is no cost for the program; lessons may be downloaded and web applications may be accessed at any time from the Safe Drinking Water Foundation website free of charge.
Students will learn how much source water is needed to produce one litre of drinking water in their community, they will take action to make a difference regarding drinking water related issues in their community and they will learn what actions people in other communities are taking to spread awareness of, and alleviate, drinking water problems.
Through a variety of activities and cooperative learning strategies, the students explore common disease-causing microbes found in water, how these microbes are removed or inactivated in water with water treatment and the diseases these microbes cause when they are not identified and treated in drinking water systems.
How it works
Lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations and all resources are available online, for review and for teachers to print.
OWF encourages students to establish the true cost of water (economic and environmental); the social responsibilities of providing safe drinking water; the need for national regulations; and the need for water conservation and source water protection, etc.
Operation Water Flow supports and encourages a broad understanding of information related to drinking water issues.
OWS is a collection of thematic units and lesson plans which will reinforce Aboriginal culture and perspectives regarding water for Aboriginal students - while at the same time provide an Aboriginal perspective to non-Aboriginal students about water issues.
Operation Water Spirit invites teachers to encourage classroom discussions to enable students to gain a closer understanding of Aboriginal issues and perspectives surrounding drinking water.
To present Operation Water Spirit in an open and caring atmosphere to encourage students to view Aboriginal issues by “walking in their moccasins” for the duration of these lessons.
Expectations of Students
To be receptive to new perspectives and to leave all racial prejudice behind.
A closer relationship and understanding of water issues between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.
OPERATION WATER SPIRIT (OWS)
THANK YOU For becoming part of the solution to make Safe Drinking Water a reality for Everyone! Please visit us at www.safewater.org or contact us at [email_address] or 1-306-934-0389 for additional information about any of our programs.