Nearly 120 million cubic metres of untreated sewage and runoff entered Canadian waterways in 2016, StarMetro has learned. That’s roughly the same amount of water that roars over the edge of Niagara Falls over the course of 12 hours — except it’s not whitewater spewing from these pipes. It’s murky, brown and a little bit chunky.
A study by Ontario researchers suggests real-time monitoring technology at water treatment plants on reserves could significantly reduce the number of drinking-water advisories issued for First Nations across the country.
Let’s put it this way: unless the water systems that are installed have an effective way of getting fixed and maintained, they won’t last. Installing the plumbing is not the big problem. Keeping it up and running is—and we need to make sure Indigenous people are the people who can do it.
For the past 14 years, Colville Lake, N.W.T. has been under a boil water advisory.The reason isn't due to lack of access to a water treatment plant or proper training to operate it — the community doesn't bother to send water samples to the territorial government for sampling because residents believe their water is clean enough to drink straight from the lake.
Students at McGill University soon won’t be able to buy bottled water from vending machines as the university rolls out a campus-wide ban. The step, which falls in line with World Water Day, will eliminate the sale of about 85,000 water bottles each year.
"No one should have to worry if the water is clean or if they will run out of water," Peltier said in her speech. "No child should grow up not knowing what clean water is or never know what running water is. "We all have a right to this water as we need it — not just rich people, all people."
Canada has an abundance of water for its size: It has 0.5 per cent of the world’s population but seven per cent of the world’s renewable freshwater supply. From a global perspective, most Canadians are lucky, but the messages that emanate from academic and popular literature often paint an unsettling picture.
"The discharge limits of tritium are 10,000 times below the actual dose limits that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requires us to meet," said Meggan Vickerd, the reactor's decommissioning manager. But just what makes an "acceptable" limit is a matter of debate. Ole Hendrickson, a scientist and researcher for the group Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, questions the safety of the discharge limits for the facility.
Amber Sears removes a glass stopper from a beaker, gives the contents a swirl and takes a whiff. The 23-year-old is a water lab technician and sniffing is her job. "You're smelling for musty and earthy smells," Sears said. "That's what happens when the spring runoff happens, when the vegetation comes into the water." She checks the scent wheel which offers descriptors like fishy, swampy and flowery. The wheel helps testers like Sears circle in on the aromatic analysis of our drinking water.
"Water is life, without it nothing survives, but for a long time now families in Chatham-Kent have been dealing with black water coming from their wells, jeopardizing their lives and livelihoods," he said.
Indigenous people are left out of water governance and policy decisions, despite their treaty rights and the high exposure of many Indigenous communities to drought, flooding and impaired source water quality.
'We're coming together to make awareness to take care of the water,' says elder Shirley Williams In 2003, when Anishnaabe elder Josephine Mandamin took her first ceremonial water walk around Lake Superior, she wanted to share the message that the water is sick and people need to fight for that water, to speak for that water and to love that water.
Wilbert Marshall says he's more confident in the work being done by an Irish company The chief of Potlotek First Nation says his community is tired of lip service from the government, and he's now putting his confidence in an Irish company to deal with the water issues.
On Monday, people in Cape Breton reserve advised not to use tap water to wash clothes, bathe or drink A group of First Nations chiefs in Atlantic Canada is blasting the federal government for what it sees as a lack of action in fixing the yearlong water problem in Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton.
High levels of iron and manganese exceed 'esthetic objectives' for water quality A year after residents of Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton rallied to protest the quality of their drinking water, the community has been advised by Health Canada not to drink the water, bathe in it or even wash clothes in it.
There are now 16 First Nations in Saskatchewan and one in Alberta producing some of the highest quality tap water in the world using the IBROM process. So there is proof that very poor quality water can be treated most effectively, economically and sustainably.
While the Canadian government says it's on track with its 2016 promise to bring safe water to First Nations communities within five years, some are still calling it an ambitious plan.
"First Nations communities are not homogenous. And the water source is not a homogenous source either, for these communities," said Lalita Bhardawaj, a toxicologist and public health professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
"There's no technical reason why we couldn't solve the drinking water problem," is what a retired engineering executive told The Globe and Mail, as part of this newspaper's investigation into the abysmal state of the water on the country's Indigenous reserves. Truer words were never spoken.
Behind every failed First Nations water plant is an unfortunate story. Assigning blame can be challenging: Although Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) pays for most on-reserve infrastructure and sets most of the rules governing design and construction, many other parties are involved, including project managers, engineering and construction firms and First Nations chiefs and councillors.
Serpent River’s woes resemble those of the 90 other Canadian reserves under drinking-water advisories. But there is a cruel twist: This water treatment plant is barely a year old. It is a small yet impressive modern facility, a bewildering but orderly arrangement of pumps, piping and gauges.
"We need to fix this," she said. "A lot of Canadians have been helping with water projects in Africa and all around the world and they had no idea that there were places in Canada where you couldn't just turn on the tap and drink the water, and so I think the consciousness has been raised."
Unfortunately, many small municipalities and First Nations communities in Saskatchewan do not have good-quality source water. Indeed, rural Saskatchewan has some of the poorest-quality raw water sources anywhere.
Dozens of boil water advisories have been issued in Alberta First Nations communities, one after E. coli was detected at a daycare, others after mice were found in water tanks.
In all, Health Canada has issued 56 drinking water advisories affecting First Nations communities in Alberta since April 2015 — more than the 52 orders Alberta Health Services made for the rest of the province over the same time period.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has launched a new campaign aimed at pressuring the federal government to address the water quality issues in First Nations communities across Canada.
The Thirsty for Justice Campaign officially launched on Tuesday, National Aboriginal Day. It includes a website and a video chronicling the water quality problems faced by Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario.
Discrimination against First Nations people is a "legal fact" in Canada when it comes to safe drinking water, says a new report by Human Rights Watch.
The international, independent human rights organization released its report in Toronto on Tuesday calling for "urgent steps" by the federal and provincial government to resolve more than 100 boil-water advisories in First Nations across Canada.