First Nations Water Management Strategy

Lead Department(s): Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Start Date: May 2003 (official announcement)
End Date: March 2008 (end of funding)

Total Federal Funding Allocation: $1.6 billion over 5 years

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement)

INAC and Health Canada (HC) have developed a seven-part First Nations Water Management Strategy (FNWMS) to be implemented over a five-year period, beginning in 2003–2004. The strategy allows for the development and implementation of: (1) a plan to upgrade and build water and waste-water facilities to meet established design, construction and water quality standards with a priority on identified facilities; (2) an effective water quality monitoring program combined with a comprehensive and coordinated compliance and reporting regime that will improve the detection of drinking water problems in a timely manner, thereby reducing the possibility of risk to health; (3) an effective and sustainable operation and maintenance (O&M) program designed to ensure the safety of the residents and the protection of the assets with a priority on identified high-risk facilities; (4) a plan for the continued expansion and enhancement of training programs, to ensure that all operators have the skills, knowledge and experience required to fulfill their responsibilities, supported by the introduction of mandatory certification requirements for all operators; (5) a set of integrated water quality management protocols with clearly defined roles and responsibilities consistent with national performance standards along with improvements in emergency response procedures; (6) a public awareness campaign aimed at informing both First Nation decision-makers of their roles and responsibilities in ensuring the safety of water supplies within their communities and First Nation households of measures they can take to protect the quality of water within their home and community; and (7) a comprehensive set of clearly defined standards, protocols and policies, using a multi-barrier approach.

The strategy will also require the establishment of closer partnerships amongst key federal, provincial/territorial, industry and other public sector partners. These partnerships will assist in areas such as watershed management and source water protection as well as advances in science and technology. Most importantly, the implementation of the strategy and the development of a detailed plan will require close collaboration with First Nations. The strategy is consistent with the broader national approach and is modelled on the enhanced management regimes in place or being implemented in most provinces and territories. The FNWMS includes an additional $600 million in funding over five years (from 2003–2004 to 2007–2008). Of that $600 million, $115.9 million goes to HC for their part in the strategy, while the remaining $484.1 million funds INAC's participation in the strategy. This $600 million in funding is in addition to INAC's normal annual funding to water initiatives in First Nations and HC's Drinking Water Safety Program (DWSP) funds that go to First Nations, which are also included in this template. Combining the FNWMS funds and the normal annual funding by both departments into First Nation water issues, the total federal funding allocated over 5 years will be $1.6 billion.

For more information, see Water Source for Life

Drinking Water Quality  

Shared Outcome(s)

  • Reduction in the health risk level of drinking water in First Nations.
  • Increased awareness of the importance of clean drinking water and the responsibilities involved in keeping it clean.
  • Water standards will be met by all facilities.

Governance Structure(s)

  • Strategic Water Management on Reserve Committee (SWMRC).
  • Interdepartmental Waters ADM Committee (IWAC).
  • Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) on municipal wastewater effluent.
  • Interdepartmental Working Group on Drinking Water (IWGDW).
  • Public Health Indicators Working Group.
  • Regional Water Teams.
  • DG Steering Committee on Public Health
Federal Partners Involved in each Program Names of Programs Total Allocation Planned Spending for 2006–07 Expected Results for 2006–07
INAC First Nations Water Management Strategy $1.471 billion $305.8 million Number of trained or certified operators greater than in the previous year.

Number of high-risk facilities less than in the previous year.
Health Canada Drinking Water Safety Program including the First Nations Water Management Strategy $140.9 million $31.7 million ($5 million A-based and $26.7 million for the FNWMS) Increased ratio of Environmental Health Officers to communities [Note 1]

Increased number of water quality testing and sampling kits [Note 1]

Increased number of communities with trained Community Based Drinking Water Monitors [Note 1]

Increased number and frequency of drinking water quality samples taken and analyzed [Note 1]

Increased number of data analysis reports [Note 1]
Total   $1.6 billion $337.5 million Note 1: relative to baseline prior to the FNWMS


Contact Information

Contact Information
Garry Best
Director, Infrastructure Operations
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
Room 17 E
Telephone: 819-994-2210
Fax: 819-997-8522
Email: BestG@ainc-inac.gc.ca