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Through the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP), the Government of Canada will improve the health and quality of life of people in First Nation communities by assisting First Nations to provide better water and wastewater services to their residents. The two lead federal departments are Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and Health Canada.
The objectives of the action plan are to ensure that:
The FNWWAP extends most elements of the March 2006 Plan of Action for Drinking Water in First Nations Communities, including:
The FNWWAP will also introduce several program enhancements, including:
Through contribution agreements with First Nation communities, INAC will fund the construction and upgrading of high risk and medium risk water and wastewater infrastructure systems on reserves. This includes water intakes, water and wastewater treatment and distribution systems. Related work around introducing standards and a protocol for small water and wastewater systems (including individual and community wells, trucked water and septic systems) will permit the funding of small systems, where appropriate. Health Canada will assist in the review of system design from a public health perspective.
A national assessment will be undertaken by INAC, working jointly with First Nations, to evaluate water and wastewater services in all First Nation communities and recommend the best options for future services for each community. INAC expects to complete the national assessment in 2009, with results to be made public shortly thereafter.
Through contribution agreements with First Nation communities, funding will be provided to improve operation and maintenance (O&M) practices for water and wastewater facilities. INAC will also work to ensure that funding for O&amo;M is applied to water and wastewater systems.
INAC will continue to train more water operators and nearly double the number of trainers in the Circuit Rider Training Program (CRTP).
The extension of funding to Health Canada will help the department to continue to assist communities with monitoring all distribution systems with five or more connections, cisterns and community wells, consistent with the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and best management practices.
Health Canada is also planning to enhance monitoring activities, including a National Wastewater Program and public awareness and risk communication activities.
INAC will develop and refine protocols, which will set out clear standards to guide First Nations in the planning, design and operations of water systems, wastewater systems and small systems (such as wells and septic systems). Health Canada will introduce a Waterborne Illness Protocol to address potential waterborne threats to human health in First Nations communities south of 60°.
INAC will lead a consultation process with First Nations communities and organizations, as well as with provincial/territorial representatives, to create a legislative framework for drinking water and wastewater on reserve.