First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan

The First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP) was introduced in 2008. FNWWAP provided $330 million in water and wastewater funding over two years for treatment facility construction and renovation, operation and maintenance of facilities, training of operators and related public health activities on-reserve. On May 26, 2010, the Government of Canada announced that FNWWAP was extended for two more years until 2012, providing an additional $330 million to improve drinking water in First Nations communities.

Through the FNWWAP, the Government of Canada is improving 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 Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and Health Canada.

Key components of FNWWAP include:

  • investments in infrastructure projects to address water and wastewater needs and to maintain existing systems;
  • investments in the on-going operations and maintenance of water and wastewater systems;
  • funding for the hands-on training of treatment plant operators, to increase the number of certified water treatment system operators;
  • water quality monitoring in accordance with the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ);
  • support for water and wastewater-related public health activities in First Nation communities on reserve; and
  • funding for third-party water and wastewater systems operation under the Safe Water Operations Program, when required.

Progress on Water Initiatives

The National Assessment surveyed the water and wastewater systems of 97 per cent of First Nation communities in Canada. Site visits in the 571 participating First Nations began in September 2009, concluded in November 2010. The National Assessment was released in July 2011.

On July 14, 2011, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development announced the results of the National Assessment which are guiding the First Nations and the Department investments on priorities to improve the provision of safe drinking water in First Nation communities.

Bill S-11, the proposed Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act was introduced in Parliament in May 2010 and died in committee on Second reading on March 26, 2011, as a result of the dissolution of Parliament.

Proposed Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

The proposed Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act was introduced in Parliament on February 29, 2012.

While the spirit of the new proposed legislation is the same as former Bill S-11, the Government has incorporated significant changes to the current bill based on feedback received from First Nations, Senators and Members of Parliament.

This enabling legislation is a vital step towards ensuring First Nations have the same health and safety protections for drinking water as other Canadians.

After due consideration, the Senate referred Bill S-8 to the House of Commons in June 2012 without amendment. On June 19, 2012 Bill S-8 received first reading in the House of Commons. On November 1, 2012, second reading debates began of Bill S-8. On November 1, 2012, second reading debates began of Bill S-8.

Subject to the proposed legislation receiving Royal Assessment, this bill will allow the Government to develop, in partnership with First Nations, enforceable federal regulations to ensure access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water; the effective treatment of wastewater; and the protection of sources of water on First Nation lands.

Construction and Upgrades of Water and Wastewater Systems

Through contribution agreements with First Nation communities, AANDC funds the construction and upgrading of water and wastewater infrastructure systems on-reserve. 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. The Water and Wastewater Policy and Level of Service Standards guides these investments. Health Canada assists with the review of system design from a public health perspective.

Improvements to Operation and Maintenance Practices

Through contribution agreements with First Nation communities, AANDC is providing funding to improve operation and maintenance (O&M) practices for water and wastewater facilities.

Expansion and Enhancement of Training

AANDC continues to provide funding to train more water operators and to increase the number of trainers in the Circuit Rider Training Program (CRTP). The Circuit Rider Training Program (CRTP) is an important vehicle by which First Nations operators receive hands-on, on-site training and mentoring on how to operate their drinking water and wastewater systems. AANDC continues to fund the Circuit Rider Train ing Program (CRTP) to ensure the services are available to all First Nations communities that require them. As of fall 2012, there were 66 Circuit Rider Trainers.

The CRT Program plays a large role in the increase of certified on- reserve water and wastewater system operators. The 2011 National Assessment concluded that 51 per cent of water systems and 42 per cent of wastewater systems were managed by operators certified to the level of the system that they operated. One year later, the Annual Performance Inspections (APIs) of the same systems indicated that 60.1 per cent of water treatment systems and 53.9 per cent of wastewater systems were managed by operators certified to the level of the system.

Monitoring and Public Awareness

Health Canada assists communities to monitor 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.

What Information is Available?

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