Water and Wastewater Policy and Level of Services Standards (Corporate Manual System)

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Volume 1 - Capital Facilities and Maintenance - Potable Water and Wastewater Systems

1.0 Purpose

1.1 This directive states the policy of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) on funding to support First Nations in delivering potable water and wastewater services on reserves. The related levels of service standard (Appendix A), determined on a national basis, are the levels of service that AANDC is prepared to financially support to assist First Nations in providing community services comparable to the levels of service that would generally be available in non-native communities of similar size and circumstances.

1.2 This document supersedes the previous version, Amendment 7, 99.07.28.

2.0 Application

2.1 This policy applies to the Department, and all sectors and regions within the Department.

3.0 Authorities

3.1 Treasury Board Decision of March 2005 - Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program and Treasury Board Decision of April 2008 - Implementation of the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan.

3.2 Treasury Board Decision of February 2009 - Funding to support investments in First Nations infrastructure and housing, amendments to the transfer payment terms and conditions for the Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program and removal of the requirement for annual updates on Part 2 of the Long-term Capital Plan.

4.0 Issuing Authority

4.1 This directive is issued under the authority of the Assistant Deputy Minister, Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships.

5.0 Definitions

5.1 Cost Effectiveness: Cost effectiveness is the relationship between the cost of an asset or services as determined by Life Cycle Costing (LCC) study and how well it meets the intended objective. In other words, to be cost effective, a facility should be economical to develop and operate and be able to provide anticipated continuous service over a period of time.

5.2 Housing Density: The number of housing units per hectare of net residential land.

5.3 Life Cycle Costing (LCC): LCC is a mathematical procedure which describes the total costs (e.g. construction, operation, maintenance, major maintenance and disposal) of an asset in terms of a present value which reflects the effects of monetary interest and price escalation. A LCC analysis provides a hypothetical method of comparing competing options on the basis of which alternative makes the better economic sense in terms of total costs over a defined period (usually 20 years).

5.4 Net Residential Land: Land devoted to residential buildings and access to them including informal open space, drives and service areas. This excludes land for streets, playgrounds, hydro rights-of-way, gas pipelines, easements, land used or designated for commercial or institutional use, and land within a residential area that is economically and/or environmentally unsuitable for use due to the presence of bedrock, swamp, steep slopes, etc.

5.5 Sewage System(s): This includes collection systems, treatment and disposal facilities and can normally consist of lift stations, force mains, sewer mains, house service connections, septic tanks and disposal fields, storage tanks, low pressure and grinder systems, small bore sewer, truck-haul systems (includes tankage and pressurization), lagoons, various types of mechanical and natural treatment facilities and outfalls. For the purpose of this document, the sewage systems exclude plumbing and the associated fixtures within all buildings (plumbing system) (except those buildings associated with the system itself).

5.6 Water System(s): This includes wells, supply lines, intakes, pumping stations, treatment plants, piping and related components, hydrants, house service connections, trucking, storage reservoirs and appurtenances. For the purpose of this document, the water systems exclude plumbing and the associated fixtures within all buildings (except those buildings associated with the system itself).

5.7 Community Well: A well servicing five (5) or more houses in close proximity (i.e. cluster housing). It includes the well, pump and associated piping. For purposes of this document, the well excludes the indoor water lines and associated fixtures within all buildings (plumbing system), except those associated with operation of the well itself and the production of potable water.

5.8 Centrally managed on-site system: refers to a group or groups (cluster or clusters) of on-site water or wastewater systems that are designed, installed, and continuously operated, maintained, and monitored as per the requirements of the Protocol for Decentralized Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities. On-site systems include individual wells, drinking water treatment units, water storage tanks (cisterns), sewage holding tanks and septic disposal fields.

5.9 Individual Well: A well servicing an individual housing unit. It includes the well, pump and associated piping. For purposes of this document, the well excludes the indoor water lines and associated fixtures within all buildings (except those associated with the operation of the well itself and the production of potable water such as a Drinking Water Treatment Unit).

5.10 Drinking Water Treatment Unit (DWTU): A generic term used to describe in-house equipment that is used to treat drinking water. DWTUs provide water treatment either for health and safety or for aesthetic reasons. DWTUs can be further divided into Point-of-Entry (POE) and Point-of-Use (POU) Systems. POE systems typically treat most of the water entering a housing unit. POU systems typically treat water at a single tap, such as a kitchen sink faucet or an auxiliary faucet mounted next to it. Common technologies for DWTUs include activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis, ultra-violet light, chlorination, ozonation and distillation.

6.0 Policy

6.1 Subject to the availability of funds and departmental priorities, this policy sets out the conditions under which AANDC may provide capital funding assistance through the Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program to First Nations for construction or reconstruction of potable water and wastewater systems for on reserve housing units and administrative, operative, institutional and recreational buildings. For centrally managed on-site systems only new construction is eligible for funding. The Corporate Manuals System Volume 1, Capital Facilities and Maintenance, Operation and Maintenance section, sets out the related policy, on operation and maintenance funding. Under that policy, subject to approval and availability of funds, AANDC provides First Nations with operation and maintenance funding assistance, including operator training, for potable water and wastewater systems.

6.2 Regions will implement this directive within regional resource levels.

6.3 In accordance with Paragraphs 6.1 and 6.2, AANDC will fund up to 100 percent of the capital costs of potable water and wastewater systems as outlined in the Level of Service Standards (LOSS) in Appendix A. Water and wastewater systems that do not conform to this directive but represent an opportunity to test alternative means of providing safe drinking and wastewater services to First Nation communities may be considered for funding within regional resource levels on a pilot basis, following written approval by the Director General of the Community Infrastructure Branch.

6.4 First Nations desiring a level of service which is higher than provided for in Appendix A may provide such upgraded service with capital and related operational and maintenance funds obtained from their own or other sources. AANDC will not fund capital or operations and maintenance costs for services which exceed the LOSS, except where a pilot project has been approved in writing by the Director General of the Community Infrastructure Branch.

6.5 Funding is contingent on the existence of a First Nation's Chief and Council approved community physical development plan, either on its own or as part of a Comprehensive Community Plan.

6.6 Proposals for new or upgraded water systems must satisfactorily address the disposal of the wastewater generated by such systems.

6.7 In all cases involving decisions on the level of service for potable water and wastewater systems, a complete analysis shall be made of the LCC, normally for a 20 year period, of all practical options which satisfy the basic health, safety and environmental concerns. Assessment should include a consideration of the most current population projection included in the physical development plan or Comprehensive Community Plan. Regions will work with First Nations to identify the most appropriate water and wastewater service solution, in accordance with the Levels of Service Standard: Potable Water and Wastewater Systems in Appendix A. The level of service will depend upon a number of factors including what is environmentally and economically feasible to deliver a service which meets basic health requirements. Sections 3.0 and 4.0 of the Levels of Service Standard provide greater detail on the various alternatives which offer different levels of service. The most appropriate level of service for a particular location will depend upon what is physically and economically feasible to provide while ensuring health and safety requirements are met. The Level of Service Standard describes the various levels of service supported and the requirements which must be satisfied to justify funding decisions.

6.8 A feasibility study is required before any project receives approval. Feasibility studies must conform with the requirements set out in the Design Guidelines for First Nations Water Works, the Protocol for Centralised Drinking Water Systems in First Nations Communities, the Protocol for Decentralized Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, and/or the Protocol for Centralised Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, as applicable. At a minimum, feasibility studies must include:

  • project rationale;
  • description of any existing water works and wastewater facilities;
  • source water quality;
  • identification of the community or area served;
  • description of the nature and extent of the area to be served;
  • provisions for extending the water system to include additional areas;
  • appraisal of the future requirements for service, including existing and potential industrial, commercial, institutional, and other water supply needs;
  • detailed analysis of advantages and disadvantages of each option analysed;
  • recommended option with reference to AANDC's Level of Service Standards (LOSS) (note: bench scale study results, or pilot studies, or demonstrations may be required later on to establish adequacy of recommended process, OR, may be required as part of the deliverables of the feasibility study);
  • detailed analysis of operation and maintenance cost for all options, including the requirement for a certified operator;
  • life cycle cost analysis of all options;
  • Environmental Scoping Report (including Species at Risk Act and a timber permit assessment);
  • Identify regulatory impacts (i.e. permits and licenses that will be required for the project);
  • land requirements (including for future expansion); and
  • identify all permits and applicable water licenses that will be required for the project.

6.9 Extensions to existing piped systems shall not be funded until the First Nation's inventory of unused serviced lots is equal to or less than a two (2) year supply based on housing forecasts. In such cases, for calculation purposes, the existing supply of unused lots shall be considered part of the total lot requirement for system extension. After extension of a piped system, the total number of unused serviced lots, either residual inventory or new, shall not exceed the First Nation's eight (8) year projection of lot requirement.

6.10 This policy does not preclude more than one level of service in a First Nation community on reserve, where some choose to live in other than planned residential areas.

6.11 Subject to the availability of funds and departmental priorities, when it is cost effective to implement, AANDC may choose to cost-share the additional capital and operation and maintenance costs required to provide potable water and wastewater services to on reserve commercial properties, including economic development residential subdivisions, industrial facilities, and off reserve interests such as development on leased land.

6.12 All proposed new potable water and wastewater systems will be required to meet:

  1. the relevant sections of the National Building Code standards;
  2. the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, Health Canada;
  3. the Guidelines for Effluent Quality and Wastewater Treatment at Federal Establishments, Environment Canada;
  4. the Protocol for Centralised Drinking Water Systems in First Nations Communities, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada;
  5. the Protocol for Decentralized Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada;
  6. the Protocol for Centralised Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; and
  7. Provincial/Territorial guidelines and regulations except where they are less stringent than those of the federal government.

7.0 Responsibilities

Provision of water services to First Nations communities is a shared responsibility:

7.1 First Nations - First Nations are the owners and operators of community infrastructure on reserve. Band Councils are responsible for ensuring that water and wastewater services are provided in accordance with the Protocol for Centralised Drinking Water Systems in First Nations Communities and/or the Protocol for Decentralised Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities and the Protocol for Centralised Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities. The Band Council is responsible for ensuring that the potable water and wastewater facilities and systems are designed, constructed, maintained, and operated in accordance with the relevant standards, protocols and guidelines, including that operators are certified to the appropriate level. First Nations are responsible for maintaining effective sampling and testing programs to continuously monitor drinking water quality in accordance with the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. First Nations are expected to charge service fees for the services they provide and to contribute to the operation and maintenance costs for their systems, in accordance with the AANDC policy directive on Operation and Maintenance.

7.2 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - INAC supports First Nations in providing services on reserve through financial assistance for designing, constructing, upgrading, operating, and maintaining water and wastewater facilities in accordance with the relevant protocols, this policy directive and the Level of Service Standard found in Appendix A. AANDC also supports the provision of training and services shared between reserves and municipalities through MTAs (municipal-type agreements). AANDC is responsible for ensuring that the National Framework for the Review of Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Project Proposals in First Nations Communities is applied. Compliance with the Protocol for Centralised Drinking Water Systems in First Nations Communities, the Protocol for Decentralised Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities and the Protocol for Centralised Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities is monitored by AANDC.

7.3 Health Canada – Health Canada works in partnership with First Nations communities to ensure drinking water quality monitoring programs are in place in communities South of 60°, as per the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. These programs include testing, sampling drinking water quality, and reviewing, interpreting and disseminating results. In order to build community capacity in environmental health, Health Canada facilitates community-based drinking water quality sampling and testing through support and training of community-based drinking water quality monitors. Health Canada investigates potential problems, provides advice and makes recommendations to First Nations communities and federal partners, such as Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Health Canada is also actively involved in the integrated review of design process and the development of community-based education and awareness programs on drinking water and wastewater issues. In First Nations communities where Environmental Health Programs are devolved, the First Nations stakeholders are responsible for drinking water quality monitoring.

7.4 Environment Canada – Environment Canada regulates the degree of treatment and effluent quality of wastewater discharged to receiving waters and provides advice and technical expertise on federal legislation requirements. Environment Canada also provides guidance materials in the areas of source water protection and sustainable water use. The purpose of these guidelines is to indicate the degree of treatment and effluent quality that will be applicable to all wastewater discharged.

7.5 Other – There are regional and technical First Nations organizations which may also play a role in supporting First Nations governments in delivering water and wastewater services. Provincial agencies or organizations may also play a role, for example in the certification of water and wastewater treatment plant operators.

8.0 Enquiries

8.1 Matters related to the interpretation of this directive are to be referred to the Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch, at AANDC Headquarters.

8.2 Requests for additional copies should be addressed to the Corporate Information Management Directorate at Headquarters.

9.0 Appendices

Appendix A - Levels of Service Standard: Potable Water and Wastewater Systems

Appendix A

Levels of Service Standard: Potable Water and Wastewater Systems

1.0 Purpose

1.1 The levels of service standard, determined on a national basis, is the levels of service that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) is prepared to financially support to assist First Nations in providing community services on reserve comparable to the levels of service that would generally be available in off reserve communities of similar size and circumstances.

1.2 The levels of service standard provides a description of the criteria which will be used to establish the level of funding to be provided in support of safe, cost-effective, domestic water supply and wastewater disposal systems for on reserve housing units and administrative, operative, institutional and recreational buildings.

2.0 Levels of Service Standard

2.1 The service alternatives for water and wastewater must be considered in ranked order as set out in this document when assessing the feasibility of water and wastewater projects and justification for progressing to the next level of service provided. The most economically feasible, physically appropriate system to meet the water and wastewater needs of the community in question shall be chosen.

2.2 The levels of service for potable water and wastewater may consist of one or more of the typical following systems: piped water, water and wastewater treatment plants, water intakes, sewers (gravity or low pressure), community wells, centrally managed on site systems (wells, trucked water, water storage tanks (cisterns), trucked sewage, septic tanks and disposal fields), and connections to adjacent communities via municipal type agreements (MTAs). The choice of combination shall be based on life-cycle costing (LCC) for normally a 20 year period, engineering, planning, health, safety and environmental considerations.

2.3 Watering points will only be considered as an interim measure. A plan for servicing the housing units with piped or truck haul water systems must be in place prior to installation of watering points.

2.4 Piped Water and Sewage Systems: To be considered or qualified for conventional high-pressure piped water and/or sewage systems, lot frontages shall average no more than 30 metres. In cases where the dwelling units density deviates from this standard, alternative water and sewage systems (e.g. small diameter piped systems, low pressure piped water and sewage systems, trucked water and holding tank systems or centrally managed on-site systems) must be considered and conventional high-pressure piped systems only approved where the LCC is lower than with the use of alternate systems or where environment, health and safety needs cannot be met in any other way.

2.5 Water and wastewater systems not specifically identified in this Level of Service Standard document may be considered for funding on a pilot basis if they represent an opportunity to examine alternative means of providing safe drinking and waste water services to First Nation communities. These projects will be subject to the approval of the Director General of the Community Infrastructure Branch.

2.6 This level of service standard only applies to potable water and wastewater systems for which Indian and Northern Affairs Canada provides funding to First Nations. Privately-owned homes are not eligible for support for on-site water and wastewater systems through water and wastewater funding from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Only new construction of centrally-managed on-site systems serving buildings owned by First Nations is eligible under this policy. Requirements for qualification as a "centrally managed on-site system" are found in the Decentralised Systems Protocol.

3.0 Water Supply

3.1 General Remarks

Four (4) distinct levels of water service for which AANDC may provide funding to First Nations are described, ranked in order of level of service to the user. Levels 1 to 3 provide water for human consumption and basic personal and household cleanliness. The fourth level provides water for all purposes including bathing, washing clothes, and for community services such as fire protection.

All potable water systems funded by AANDC must be designed to provide potable water that meets the water quality criteria set out in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality

3.2 Service Alternatives

The alternative of providing services via connections to adjacent communities under a municipal type agreement (MTA) should always be examined where available.

3.2.1 Level W1-Centrally Managed On-site Systems

Pressurized potable water is provided to meet all normal residential requirements, through a group or groups of on-site water systems, such as wells, water storage tanks (cisterns) and drinking water treatment units (DWTUs) (where treatment is necessary for health and safety reasons, aesthetic treatment units will not be funded), that supply potable water (water destined for human consumption) to individual residences or public facilities. As set out in the Protocol for Decentralised Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, any DWTUs funded must be NSF certified for the intended use. The term "centrally managed on-site system" refers to a group or groups (cluster or clusters) of on-site water or wastewater systems that are designed, installed, and continuously operated, maintained, and monitored as per the requirements of the Protocol for Decentralised Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities.

3.2.2 Level W2-Communal Watering Points

A community water system with one or more watering points from which residents may obtain potable water. ( As noted in 2.2 watering points will only be considered as an interim measure.)

The distance between a watering point and a residence should not be greater than 100 m. Each watering point should serve at least 10 homes where practical.

3.2.3 Level W3-Trucked Water Delivery

Potable water is delivered by vehicle to individual residences in limited quantities.

The source is either surface or well water or both. The required treatment is done prior to delivery. Alternatively, treated water may be purchased from another community for delivery to residences.

Residential water storage tanks (cisterns) shall be provided. The water storage tank (cistern) must be of an appropriate size to meet the needs of the residence in relation to the frequency of delivery and of a quality to maintain health and safety of the residents. Tanks must be installed in such a way as to prevent contamination and permit necessary maintenance (including cleaning).

3.2.4 Level W4-Piped Water Systems

Pressurized potable water is provided to meet all normal residential requirements. This level of service can be realized using a community piped water distribution system with or without fire protection capacity. The alternatives for this level are presented below.

3.2.4.1 Level W4A Piped Water Distribution

A piped water distribution system is provided to meet normal domestic requirements.

The system consists of a water supply, treatment and storage facility (water reservoir), and a piped distribution system to each residence and other community users.

3.2.4.2 Level W4B-Piped Water Distribution with Fire Protection

A piped water supply with fire protection capacity in accordance with community density and with community capacity and needs as identified in a comprehensive community plan.

The system consists of a water supply, treatment and storage facilities (water reservoir), and a piped distribution system complete with fire hydrants. Reservoir capacity should be sufficient to meet fire flow requirements in addition to domestic water storage requirements.

4.0 Wastewater treatment and disposal

4.1 General Remarks

Wastewater treatment and disposal systems for which AANDC may provide funding to First Nations are described below, ranked in order of level of service to the user. In general, systems which offer a lower level of service are less expensive than those which offer a higher level of service. A community may require a composite system, i.e., a combination of the various levels of service to satisfy its needs. The service alternatives described below do not represent all types of systems, but cover the range of proven sewage treatment and disposal methods.

4.2 Service Alternatives

The alternative of providing services via connections to adjacent communities under a municipal type agreement (MTA) should always be examined where available.

4.2.1 Level S1-Centrally Managed On-site Systems

A group or groups of on-site waste treatment systems, including septic tanks and disposal fields, centrally operated and maintained by the First Nation in accordance with the criteria set out in the Decentralised Systems Protocol.

4.2.2 Level S2-Truck Hauled Sewage

Removal and disposal of domestic sewage is provided. Sewage is retained in holding tanks at the home, and is removed regularly and is transported to a central treatment plant or other disposal facility.

Holding tanks shall be provided. The wastewater holding tank must be of an appropriate size to meet the needs of the residence in relation to the frequency of pump-out. The holding tank must also be designed and installed in a manner which prevents leakage.

4.2.3 Level S3-Communal System

Removal and disposal of all domestic sewage from residences is provided. This level of service can be realized using a community piped collection, treatment and disposal system.

The alternatives for this level are presented below.

4.2.3.1 Level S3A-Communal Septic System

Sewage from several residences is directed to a common septic tank and disposal field in the vicinity. This method serves residences having full or partial plumbing and offers the convenience of a piped sewage collection system.

These systems shall meet provincial septic tank standards or Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Septic Tank standards, whichever is more stringent.

4.2.3.2 Level S3B-Fully Piped Sewer System

A piped collection system is used to remove sewage from each residence. The sewage is transported by gravity sewers and/or forcemains (pressurized sewage pipes) where required, to a central sewage treatment plant. This system is normally required in a larger, high-density community or where other systems prove impractical. Effluent from sewage treatment facilities shall meet (at a minimum) the requirements of the Environment Canada Guidelines for Effluent Quality and Wastewater Treatment at Federal Establishments and the Protocol for Centralised Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities.

The quantities of wastewater produced can be considered equal to the quantities of water supplied to a residence or building. An appropriate allowance for inflow / infiltration into sewers should be made.

5.0 Design Standards

5.1 Water and wastewater system designs must follow the requirements set out in the Design Guidelines for First Nations Water Works, the Protocol for Centralised Drinking Water in First Nations Communities, the Protocol for Decentralised Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, and/or the Protocol for Centralised Wastewater Systems in First Nations Communities, as applicable. The National Framework for the Review of Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Project Proposals in First Nations Communities must be applied.

6.0 Environmental Assessment

6.1 An environmental assessment of any proposed water and wastewater project, including mitigation measures and monitoring (before, during and after construction), is required in accordance with AANDC environmental guidelines based on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), and compliance with all other relevant federal-provincial-territorial environmental statutes, such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), Fisheries Act, etc., as applicable.

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