Fact Sheet - Roles and Responsibilities Water Assessment and Monitoring

Notice

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The Government of Canada is committed to helping First Nations in the provision of safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.

To achieve this goal, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) provides funding and advice to First Nations to assist in the management and operation of water systems, related to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of water and wastewater systems. It also provides funding for the training and certification of water system operators.

Health Canada works with First Nation communities south of 60° to identify potential drinking water quality problems, and Environment Canada provides advice and guidance material in the areas of source water protection and sustainable water use.

First Nations are responsible for the daily operation and management of their systems, which includes the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and monitoring of their water systems. First Nations’ authorities issue Drinking Water Advisories in First Nation communities, usually on the recommendation of Health Canada, or on their own initiative in emergency situations.

Annual inspections

Annual inspections of First Nations water systems have been required since the introduction of the Protocol for Centralised Drinking Water Systems in First Nation Communities in 2006. An annual performance inspection is required to ensure that: 

  • the treatment process performs to design standards
  • operator level of certification meets the complexity level of the treatment plant
  • performance of the treatment process is acceptable
  • the potential for contamination is identified and the necessary improvements are made to mitigate this potential

The annual inspections include site visits conducted by a qualified person (licensed consulting engineer, licensed Tribal Council engineer, provincial water system inspector or a water system operator) who must be certified to a level equivalent to the level of the system being inspected and who cannot be a member of the band involved. An evaluation of the management risk levels associated with each system is performed as part of the process.

The annual inspection reports are discussed with and submitted to the band council and to the AANDC regional office. Printed copies of annual inspection reports are to be made available to the public by the band.

Taking Action to Strengthen Annual Inspection Process

Although the Department will not be able to complete an evaluation on the scale of the National Assessment every year, the increased number of high risk systems identified through the National Study shows room for improvement. AANDC has improved the annual inspection process, effective immediately, to increase its national consistency and to improve the reliability of its data. The annual inspection results for 2011-2012 will be from this improved process.

Date: July 14, 2011