National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems - Quebec Regional Roll-Up Report
Prepared By: Neegan Burnside Ltd.
Prepared for: Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Date: January 2011
File No: FGY163080.4
PDF Version (3.9 Mb, 96 Pages)
Statement of Qualifications and Limitations for Regional Roll-Up Reports
This regional roll-up report has been prepared by Neegan Burnside Ltd. and a team of subconsultants (Consultant) for the benefit of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (Client). Regional summary reports have been prepared for the 8 regions, to facilitate planning and budgeting on both a regional and national level to address water and wastewater system deficiencies and needs.
The material contained in this Regional Roll-Up report is:
- preliminary in nature, to allow for high level budgetary and risk planning to be completed by the Client on a national level.
- based on a compilation of the data and findings from the individual community reports prepared and issued for a specific region.
- not proposing to identify the preferred solution to address deficiencies for each community. Rather this report will identify possible solution(s) and probable preliminary costs associated with solution(s) presented in greater detail in the community reports. Community specific studies including more detailed evaluation will be required to identify both preferred solutions and final costs.
- based on existing conditions observed by, or reported to the Consultant. This assessment does not wholly eliminate uncertainty regarding the potential for costs, hazards or losses in connection with a facility. Conditions existing but not recorded were not apparent given the level of study undertaken.
- to be read in the context of its entirety.
- not to be used for any purpose other than that agreed to with the Client. Any use which a third party makes of this report, or any reliance on or decisions to be made based on it, are the responsibility of such third parties. Any other user specifically denies any right to claims against the Consultant, Sub-Consultants, their Officers, Agents and Employees.
Risk as it pertains to health and safety issues and building code compliance is based upon hazards readily identifiable during a simple walk through of the water and wastewater facilities, and does not constitute a comprehensive assessment with regard to health and safety regulations and or building code regulations.
The Consultant accepts no responsibility for any decisions made or actions taken as a result of this report.
- 1.0 Introduction
- 2.0 Regional Overview
- 3.0 Preliminary Results and Trends
- 3.1 Per Capita Consumption and Plant Capacity
- 3.2 Distribution and Collection
- 3.3 Water Risk Evaluation
- 3.3.1 Overall System Risk by Source
- 3.3.2 Overall System Risk by Treatment Classification
- 3.3.3 Overall Risk by Number of Connections
- 3.3.4 Component Risks: Water
- 3.3.5 Component Risk - Water: Source
- 3.3.6 Component Risk - Water: Design
- 3.3.7 Component Risk - Water: Operation
- 3.3.8 Component Risk - Water: Reporting
- 3.3.9 Component Risk - Water: Operator
- 3.4 Wastewater Risk Evaluation
- 3.4.1 Overall System Risk by Treatment Classification
- 3.4.2 Overall System Risk by Number of Connections
- 3.4.3 Component Risks: Wastewater
- 3.4.4 Component Risk - Wastewater: Effluent Receiver
- 3.4.5 Component Risk - Wastewater: Design
- 3.4.6 Component Risk - Wastewater: Operation
- 3.4.7 Component Risk - Wastewater: Reporting
- 3.4.8 Component Risk - Wastewater: Operator
- 3.5 Plans
- 4.0 Cost Analysis
- 5.0 Regional Summary
- Table 2.1 - Water Overview
- Table 2.2 - Wastewater Overview
- Table 3.1 - Range of Per Capita Water Usage Rates
- Table 3.2 - Average water distribution and wastewater collection pipe lengths
- Table 3.3 - Summary of Overall Risk Levels by Water Source
- Table 3.4 - Summary of Overall Risk Levels by Treatment System Classification
- Table 3.5 - Water: Operator Status for Quebec Region
- Table 3.6 - Wastewater: Operator Status for Quebec Region
- Table 3.7 - Plans Summary: Water
- Table 3.8 - Plans Summary: Wastewater
- Table 4.1 - Estimated Total Construction Costs: Water
- Table 4.2 - Estimated Total Non-Construction Costs: Water
- Table 4.3 - Estimated Additional Annual Operation & Maintenance Costs: Water
- Table 4.4 - Estimated Total Construction and Related Costs: Wastewater
- Table 4.5 - Estimated Total Non-Construction and Related Costs: Wastewater
- Table 4.6 - Estimated Additional Annual Operation & Maintenance Costs: Wastewater
- Table 4.7 - Summary and Comparison of Upgrade Costs
- Table 4.8 - Breakdown of Protocol Estimated Costs by Risk Level: Water
- Table 4.9 - Breakdown of Protocol Estimated Costs by Risk Level: Wastewater
- Table 4.10 - ACRS Identified Needs: Water
- Table 4.11 - ACRS Identified Needs: Wastewater
- Table 4.12 - Future Servicing Costs
- Figure 1.1 - Quebec Region First Nations Visited
- Figure 3.1 - Water and Wastewater Treatment Capacities
- Figure 3.2 - Water Distribution: Average Pipe Length per Connection
- Figure 3.3 - Wastewater Collection: Average Pipe Length per Connection
- Figure 3.4 - Quebec Water System Risk
- Figure 3.5 - Risk Profile Based on Water Treatment System Classification
- Figure 3.6 - Water: Risk Profile Based on Risk Components
- Figure 3.7 - Source Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.8 - Design Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.9 - Operations Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.10 - Summary of Findings: Water Systems Operational Practices
- Figure 3.11 - Reporting Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.12 - Operator Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.13 - Quebec Wastewater System Risk
- Figure 3.14 - Risk Profile Based on Wastewater Treatment System Classification
- Figure 3.15 - Wastewater: Risk Profile Based on Risk Components
- Figure 3.16 - Effluent Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.17 - Design Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.18 - Operation Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.19 - Reporting Risk Drivers
- Figure 3.20 - Operators Risk Drivers
- Figure 4.1 - Breakdown of the Estimated Construction Costs to Meet INAC’s Protocol: Water ($ - M)
- Figure 4.2 - Breakdown of the Estimated Construction Costs to Meet INAC’s Protocol: Wastewater ($ - M)
- A – Glossary
- B – System Summary
- C – Site Visit Methodology
- D – First Nation Summaries
- E – Risk Summary
- F – Future Servicing Protocol Costs
The Government of Canada is committed to providing safe, clean drinking water in all First Nations communities, and to ensuring that wastewater services in all First Nations communities meet acceptable effluent quality standards. As part of this commitment, the Government announced the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP). The plan funds the construction and renovation of water and wastewater facilities, operator training, and public health activities related to water and wastewater on reserves. It also provided for a national, independent assessment – The National Assessment of First Nations Water and Wastewater Systems – which will inform the Government’s future, long-term investment strategy. This assessment was also recommended by the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
The purpose of the National Assessment is to define current deficiencies and operational needs, as well as long-term infrastructure development strategies and needs for each community on a sustainable basis.
The objectives of the National Assessment are to:
- Identify critical upgrades required for existing public systems to meet INAC’S Level of Service Standards, the Protocol for Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities, the Draft Interim Protocol for Wastewater Treatment and Disposal in First Nations Communities, and applicable provincial regulations, codes and standards.
- Complete the Annual Inspection, Risk Assessment and Asset Condition Reporting Systems (ACRS) assessment for water and wastewater assets.
- Conduct an overall community serviceability assessment, considering private on-site, communal and central systems, or combination thereof.
- Prepare Class “D” cost estimates for each of the communities visited. This is a preliminary estimate, based on available site information, indicating the approximate magnitude of cost of the recommended actions, which may be used in developing long-term capital plans and for preliminary discussion of proposed capital projects.
This assessment involved collecting background data and information about each community, undertaking a site visit, and preparing individual community reports for each participating First Nation. The assessment was conducted for each of the eight regions. This report summarizes the findings for the Quebec Region.
Site visits in the Quebec Region were undertaken by personnel from sub-consultants, Aquatech and Groupe Stavibel Inc. These site visits were undertaken during September and October of 2009 and during May through November of 2010. In addition to the consultant staff, additional participants including the Circuit Rider Trainer (CRT), INAC Representative, Environmental Health Officer (EHO) from Health Canada and Tribal Council Representative were invited to attend the site visits. The additional participants that were able to attend are identified in each community report.
After confirming the various components that the First Nation uses to provide water and wastewater services to the community (i.e. number and types of systems, piping, individual systems, etc.) along with population and future servicing needs (planned development and population growth), an assessment was carried out of the water and wastewater systems, as well as 5% of the individual systems.
Individual Community Reports have been prepared for each First Nation. In cases where the First Nation consisted of more than one community located in geographically distinct areas, a separate report was prepared for each community. In the Quebec Region, there was participation from 37 First Nations, which resulted in the preparation of 39 individual community reports. Note that the report for the Mohawks of Kanesatake First Nation did not undergo the 30 day fact checking review period due to project timelines. Figure 1.1 indicates the location of each First Nation visited as a part of this study.
The reports include an assessment of existing communal systems and existing individual systems, identification of needs to meet Departmental, Federal and Provincial protocols and guidelines, and an assessment of existing servicing of the community along with projections of population and flows for future servicing for the 10 year period. Costing for the recommendations to meet departmental protocol, federal and provincial guidelines, and an evaluation of servicing alternatives along with life cycle costing for each feasible alternative are also included in each report.
An annual water inspection, risk evaluation and ACRS (Asset Condition Reporting System) inspection was completed for each system and are included in the Appendices of each report.
The Quebec region includes 37 First Nations. There are 39 water systems (31 First Nation systems and 8 Municipal Type Agreements) and 39 wastewater systems (29 First Nation systems and 10 Municipal Type Agreements).
A First Nation water or wastewater system consists of INAC-funded assets, and serves five or more residences or public facilities. A Municipal Type Agreement, on the other hand, is when First Nations are supplied with treated water from or send their wastewater to a nearby municipality or neighbouring First Nation or corporate entity as outlined in a formal agreement between the two parties.
The First Nation community population ranges from 30 to 7,506 people, and household size ranges from 1.8 to 8.3 people per unit (ppu). The total number of homes is 14,535, and the average household size in the Quebec region is 3.8 ppu.
There are a total of 39 water systems serving 37 First Nations. For water treatment, the 39 water systems include:
- 8 systems that receive their water supply through a Municipal Type Agreement (MTA)
- 19 groundwater systems
- 1 GUDI (groundwater under the direct influence of surface water) system
- 11 surface water systems.
For water distribution, the 39 systems include:
- 1 distribution system maintained through a Municipal Type Agreement (MTA)
- 38 distribution systems that are maintained by the First Nation.
The following is a summary of the level of service being provided to the homes within the Quebec Region:
- 91% of the homes (13,207) are piped
- 8% of the homes (1,222) are serviced by individual wells
- 1% of the homes (106) are reported to have no water service.
All of the homes without service are within one First Nation community.
The following table provides an overview of the water systems by system classification, source type, treatment type and storage type.
In general, the treatment system classification reflects the complexity of the treatment process and the distribution classification reflects the size (population) of the community being serviced. The classification used for the Quebec region follows the regulations for Quebec.
|Classification||No.||% of Total|
|Source||No.||% of Total|
|Storage||No.||% of Total|
|Treatment||No.||% of Total|
|None - Direct Use||1||3%|
There are a total of 39 wastewater systems serving 37 First Nations. The 39 systems include:
- 10 wastewater systems are provided treatment through a Municipal Type Agreement (MTA), which receives and treats the wastewater from the First Nation
- 29 First Nation wastewater treatment systems consisting of 22 aerated lagoons, 5 mechanical plants, and 2 communal septic systems.
For wastewater collection, the 39 systems include:
- 1 wastewater collection system maintained through a Municipal Type Agreement (MTA)
- 38 wastewater collection systems that are maintained by the First Nation.
The following is a summary of the level of service being provided to the homes within the Quebec Region
- 91% of the homes (13,201) are piped
- 8% of the homes (1,228) are serviced by individual septics
- 1% of the homes (106) have no service.
All of the homes without service are within one First Nation community.
The following table provides an overview of the wastewater systems by system classification and treatment type.
|Classification||No.||% of Total|
|Treatment||No.||% of Total|
Historical flow records were not available for the First Nations serviced by an MTA or for approximately 14% of the First Nation communal water systems. For systems with no available flow data an average per capita demand of 325 L/c/d for piped service was used. The per capita demand for all systems ranged from 15 L/c/d to 638 L/c/d, with an average per capita demand of approximately 319 L/c/d[Note 1].
The range of per capita flow is outlined in Table 3.1. The range includes those systems with an assumed per capita demand of 325 L/c/d for piped services.
|No. of systems 2009|
|Less than 250 L/c/d||11|
|250 L/c/d to 375 L/c/d||15|
|Greater than 375 L/c/d||13|
Historical flow data for wastewater was not available for most of the wastewater systems. Therefore, to evaluate the ability of the existing infrastructure to meet the current and projected needs, an average daily flow has been calculated based on the actual or assumed per capita water consumption plus an infiltration allowance of 90 L/c/d for piped flow.
The following figure provides a summary of the plant capacities for the 37 First Nations:
- over capacity – the existing system is unable to meet the current needs
- at capacity – the existing system is able to meet the current needs
- available capacity – the existing system has sufficient capacity to meet more than the current needs
- not enough data – insufficient data was available to determine the actual system capacity.
Based on the data collected, 3 water systems and 11 wastewater systems are operating at or beyond their estimated capacities. The per capita demand based on available records was within typical values for the region for the plants identified as over capacity.
The household size for the 37 First Nations ranged from 1.8 to 8.3 people per unit (ppu) with an average of 3.8 ppu. The total number of piped connections in the Region has been determined to be 13,207 for water and 13,201 for wastewater. The average length of watermain per connection is approximately 22 m and the average length of sewermain per connection is approximately 20 m.
As the figures below illustrate, there is no real correlation between the size of the community and the length of pipe per connection.
The table below indicates the number of water and wastewater systems that have pipe lengths above and below 30 m/connection. It should be noted that this information was not available for all of the systems.
|No. of systems with pipe lengths above 30 m/connection||10||10|
|No. of systems with pipe lengths below 30 m/connection||16||17|
A risk assessment has been completed for each water system. As stated in the INAC Risk Level Evaluation Guidelines, each facility is to be ranked in risk according to the following categories: Water Source, Design, Operation, Reporting and Operators. The risk levels of all five categories are then used to determine the overall risk for the system.
Each of the five risk categories, as well as the overall risk level of the entire system is ranked numerically from 1 to 10. A risk ranking of 1.0 to 4.0 represents low risk, a risk ranking of 4.1 to 7.0 represents a medium risk, and a risk of 7.1 to 10.0 represents a high risk. Low, medium and high risks are defined as follows:
- Low Risk: These are systems that operate with minor deficiencies. Usually, the systems meet the water quality parameters specified by the appropriate Canadian Guidelines (notably the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ)) for drinking water.
- Medium Risk: These are systems with deficiencies, which individually or combined pose a medium risk to the quality of water and human health. These systems would not generally require immediate action, but the deficiencies could be more easily corrected to avoid future problems.
- High Risk: These are systems with major deficiencies, which individually or combined pose a high risk to the quality of water and may lead to potential health and safety or environmental concerns. These deficiencies could result in water quality advisories against drinking the water (such as, but not limited to boil water advisories), repetitive non-compliance with guidelines, and inadequate water supplies. Once systems are classified under this category, the region, jointly with the First Nations, are to undertake immediate corrective action to minimize or eliminate deficiencies.
The risk scores were established using INAC’s questionnaire and methodology.
Regional Risk Summary:
Of the 39 water systems inspected:
- 7 are categorized as high overall risk
- 12 are categorized as medium overall risk
- 20 are categorized as low overall risk.
The table in Appendix E.1 summarizes the correlation between the component risk and the overall risk.
Figure 3.4 provides a geographical representation of the final risk for the water systems that were inspected.
The following table summarizes the overall system risk by water source. 26% of groundwater systems, 9% of surface water systems and 13% of Municipal Type Agreement (MTA) systems are high risk. Typically for MTA’s, it is assumed that the municipality is operating their system in accordance with provincial legislation and therefore would have a low risk water supply. For the Quebec Region, however, there are a number of MTA water supplies where the treated water did not meet the GCDWQ, which resulted in a higher risk score. 37% of groundwater systems, 63% of MTA’s, and 64% of surface water systems, and the only GUDI system is low risk.
|Overall Risk Level||Groundwater||GUDI||Surface Water||MTA||Total|
The following table summarizes the overall system risk by classification level of the treatment system. System classification is based on a number of factors. There is no clear pattern between System Classification Level and Overall System Risk. However, it is noted that over half of the Level I and Level II systems are medium and high overall risk while Level III systems are primarily identified as low risk systems.
|Overall Risk Level||Small System||Level I||Level II||Level III||MTA||Total|
For the Quebec Region, approximately 50% of systems serving more than 100 connections are low risk with the remaining systems being fairly evenly split between high and medium risk. For systems serving less than 100 connections, the systems are evenly split between low, medium and high overall risk.
The overall risk is comprised of five component risks: water source, design, operation, reporting and operator. Each of these component risk factors is discussed below.
Source Risk has a mean score of 5.7. The mean source risk score by type of source is:
- groundwater at 5.8
- groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) at 7.0
- surface water at 8.5
- Municipal Type Agreement (MTA) at 1.5.
Based upon the data collected, systems which rely on GUDI or surface water typically have a higher component risk score than systems that rely on groundwater. The risk formula automatically assigns a higher base risk to these types of systems.
The following figure identifies drivers contributing to source risk scores.
Design Risk has a mean score of 3.7. The mean design risk score by type of source is:
- groundwater at 3.9
- groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) at 3.0
- surface water at 3.4
- Municipal Type Agreement (MTA) at 3.9.
The higher design risk associated with groundwater was due to lack of treatment to ensure that the aesthetic and operational guidelines are being met. As part of the multi-barrier approach to water treatment, chlorination is now required for all water systems. A water system with an increased design risk is typically associated with not providing sufficient contact time to ensure that the chlorination process is adequate. A higher risk for surface water sources and MTA’s was typically due to exceedances in the treated water or distribution system for disinfection by-products.
The frequency that the following drivers are having a significant contribution to the design risk score for water systems in the Region is presented in the figure below:
- failure to meet bacteriological MAC
- disinfection system not in place or not being used
- failure to meet GCDWQ
- appropriate treatment not in place to meet Protocol requirements
- system reliability
- systems approaching or exceeding design capacity
- systems not having appropriate waste management.
It should be noted that the drivers in red result in the entire water system being given a high risk score independent of all of the other component risk scores.
Operation Risk has a mean score of 5.8. The mean operation risk score by type of source is:
- groundwater at 6.6
- groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) at 3.0
- surface water at 4.4
- Municipal Type Agreement (MTA) at 6.3.
Areas that increased risk included not maintaining records, not having or not using approved O&M manuals and not scheduling and performing maintenance activities. Increased effort focused on these areas would result in lowering both the component and overall risk scores.
The following drivers are identified as significantly contributing to operation risk scores for water systems in the Region:
- failure to meet bacteriological MAC
- failure to meet GCDWQ (other than bacteriological)
- inadequate maintenance logs being maintained
- lack of general system maintenance
- no emergency response plan in place
- no O&M manual or O&M manual not being used.
For approximately 18% of the systems, one or more major components are identified as not working. While line and hydrant flushing is practiced for the majority of the systems, most do not regularly swab watermains. The majority of the systems have the reservoirs cleaned and fire pumps regularly tested. Only 28% of the systems are not able to produce records of system maintenance and repairs.
Reporting Risk has a mean score of 5.2. The mean reporting risk score by type of source is:
- groundwater at 5.9
- groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) at 3.0
- surface water at 3.0
- Municipal Type Agreement (MTA) at 6.5.
Inconsistent records (35%) and poor record keeping (32%) are the main drivers for reporting risk for all systems. For systems with a SCADA system in place, an additional driver was that the systems are not being calibrated to ensure that the information being recorded was accurate (13%).
An important consideration is that the systems were evaluated based on the requirements for monitoring and reporting as set out in the Protocol. Typically, monitoring and reporting being undertaken by the operators did not meet these requirements. Operator awareness and training could have a significant impact on these risk scores.
Operator Risk has a mean score of 1.8. Operator Risk has the lowest overall component risk score for all types of systems. In the Quebec Region, all of the treatment and distribution systems have a primary and back-up operator with the exception of one system. The mean operator risk score by type of source is:
- groundwater at 1.9
- groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) at 5.0
- surface water at 1.1
- Municipal Type Agreement (MTA) at 2.1.
The extent to which existing systems have fully certified primary and backup operators is presented in Table 3.5. Of the 31 systems that require a certified operator for the water treatment system, 19% did not have a fully certified primary operator and 35% did not have a fully certified backup operator. Of the 35 systems that require a certified operator for the distribution system, 14% did not have a fully certified primary operator and 34% did not have a fully certified backup operator.
Those factors which frequently contribute to increased operator risk are identified in Figure 3.12. A lack of certification, lack of training and the lack of primary or backup operator are common drivers that increase operator risk.
A risk assessment was completed for each wastewater system. Similar to the water systems, each facility is ranked in risk according to the following categories; Effluent Receiver, Design, Operation, Reporting and Operators. The risk levels of all five categories are then used to determine the overall risk for the system. The overall risk score reflects a weighted average of risk scores under the individual categories.
Each of the five risk categories, as well as the overall risk level of the entire system is ranked numerically from 1 to 10. A risk ranking of 1.0 to 4.0 represents low risk, a risk ranking of 4.1 to 7.0 represents a medium risk and a risk of 7.1 to 10.0 represents a high risk.
Of the 39 wastewater systems inspected:
- 7 are categorized as high overall risk
- 26 are categorized as medium overall risk
- 6 systems are categorized as low risk.
A table summarizing the correlation between component risk and overall risk is available in Appendix E.2.
Figure 3.13 provides a geographical representation of the final risk for the wastewater systems that were inspected.
The following table correlates the overall system risk and the classification level of the treatment system. In the Quebec region, the majority (23) of the systems are Level I. There are 10 Municipal Type Agreement systems, 4 Level II systems, and only 2 Small Systems. For MTA’s, it was assumed that the municipality was operating their system in accordance with provincial legislation and therefore resulted in a low risk sewage receiver. Four out of the ten MTA systems are low risk. In general, risk increased with the complexity of the system.
For the Quebec region, there is no clear pattern between the overall system risk and the number of connections.
The overall risk is comprised of five component risks: effluent receiver, design, operation, reporting and operators. Each of these component risk factors is discussed below.
Effluent receiver has a mean risk score of 6.2. There are two key drivers to this risk score. They are the receiving environment and the extent to which the receiver is required to support other human uses such as fishing, recreational use or as a drinking water source.
Effluent Receiver Risk can be mitigated by ensuring that:
- there is no nearby human use of the receiving environment
- this is taken into consideration during the initial evaluation of potential receivers during the planning stages of all projects
- regular monitoring of the effluent quality is undertaken to ensure minimal impact on the receiver during effluent discharge.
Design Risk has a mean score of 5.3. Design risk has the second lowest mean component score.
The following drivers are identified as significantly contributing to design risk score for wastewater systems in the Region:
- inappropriate treatment process
- system reliability
- system flexibility to meet future growth
- system has exceeded the design capacity
- inappropriate waste management.
Operation Risk has a mean score of 6.0. Most of the wastewater systems have a medium or high risk score. This is identified as an area of opportunity for increased risk mitigation efforts.
The following drivers are identified as significantly contributing to operation risk scores for wastewater systems in the region:
- failure to meet Federal Effluent Guidelines
- inadequate maintenance logs
- general maintenance not adequately being performed
- Emergency Response Plans not in place or not being used
- O&M manuals not available or not in use.
Reporting Risk has a mean score 6.2. Reporting risk is associated with the maintenance of records of effluent testing and system monitoring. Poor record keeping is a significant factor in raising the overall risk ranking for many communities in this region. 15 systems have a low risk; 5 systems have a medium risk and 19 systems have a high risk score.
The following drivers are identified as significantly contributing to reporting risk scores for wastewater systems in the Region:
- inconsistent record keeping
- inconsistent records for key parameters.
Operator Risk has an overall mean score of 2.6. Operator risk is associated with the certification of operators. There are only four systems with high risk due to operators not having adequate certification and/or not having a backup operator available.
However, as shown below there are several systems without an operator and several operators are not certified to the level of the system that they are responsible for. To ensure that the component risk remains low it is important to ensure that all operators are enrolled in training and become certified to the level of their respective treatment systems.
The extent to which existing wastewater systems have fully certified primary and backup operators is presented in Table 3.6. Of the 29 systems which require a certified operator for the wastewater treatment system, 24% did not have a fully certified primary operator and 24% did not have a fully certified backup operator. Of the 36 systems which require a certified operator for the collection system, 31% did not have a fully certified primary operator and 42% did not have a fully certified backup operator.
Those factors which frequently contribute to increased wastewater operator risk are identified in Figure 3.20. A lack of certification, lack of training and the lack of primary or backup operator are common drivers that increase operator risk.
Information was collected regarding the availability of various documents including source water protection plans (SWPP), maintenance management plans (MMP), operation and maintenance manuals and emergency response plans (ERP). The following tables provide a summary of the percentages of First Nations that have plans in place.
|Number of Wastewater Systems that have…|
|Maintenance Management Plan||Emergency Response Plan|
Source water protection planning is one component in a multi-barrier approach to providing safe drinking water. Source water protection plans seek to identify threats to the water source, and put in place policies and practices that will prevent contamination of the water source and ensure the water service provider is equipped to take corrective action should a contamination event occur. Source water protection is appropriate for both groundwater and surface water sources.
For the Quebec Region, 39% water systems have SWPP’s in place.
Maintenance Management Plans are intended to improve the effectiveness of maintenance activities and are focused on planning, scheduling and documenting preventative maintenance activities, as well as documenting unscheduled maintenance effort. The plans represent a change from reactive to proactive thinking, and when executed properly they optimize maintenance spending, minimize service disruption and extend asset life.
For the Quebec Region, 42% of groundwater systems; 100% of GUDI systems and 100% of surface water systems have an MMP in place. For wastewater systems, 59% of the systems have an MMP in place. The above does not include the MTA’s.
Emergency Response Plans are intended to be a quick reference to assist operators and other stakeholders in managing and responding to emergency situations. ERP’s should be in place for both water and wastewater systems. ERP’s include key contact information for persons to be notified, and persons that may be of assistance (agencies, contractors, suppliers, etc.) as well as standard communication and response protocols. ERP’s will identify recommended corrective actions for “foreseeable” emergencies, as well as methodologies for addressing unforeseen situations. ERP’s are essentially the last potential “barrier” in a multi-barrier approach to protecting the drinking water supply or natural environment and provide the last opportunity to mitigate damages.
33% of the water systems and 18% of the wastewater systems had an ERP in place.
Beginning in 2006 INAC developed a series of Protocol documents for centralised and decentralised water and wastewater systems in First Nations communities. The Protocols contain standards for the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and monitoring of these systems.
One of the objectives of this study was to review the existing water and wastewater infrastructure and identify the potential upgrade costs to meet INAC Protocols, as well as Federal guidelines and Provincial standards. The estimated total construction costs for water system upgrades to meet INAC Protocols is $14.9 million.
Table 4.1 provides a breakdown of the estimated total capital costs identified. A separate line item is included for engineering and contigency. Figure 4.1 provides a graphical comparison of each of the categories.
There are ten water systems that are identified as having potentially GUDI (groundwater under the direct influence of surface water) water supplies. Protocol costs for these systems are estimated assuming that they will prove to be secure groundwater supplies and recommendations for GUDI studies are identified to confirm this. Should the results of the GUDI studies indicate that these supplies are actually to be considered as surface water supplies, additional upgrade requirements would be required to meet the requirements of the INAC Protocol. An additional $1.0 to $2.5 million is estimated to be required for each system that requires upgrading to surface water treatment depending on system capacity and site indices.
Treatment, Distribution and Source are the construction categories with the highest cumulative costs to meet upgrades.
Treatment costs include:
- Providing spare chemical feed equipment.
- Providing spare disinfection equipment.
- Providing additional filter trains.
- Providing secondary containment for treatment chemicals.
- Providing specific treatment equipment (i.e. arsenic, manganese, etc.).
- Providing contact piping.
- Providing surge suppression/uninterruptible power supplies for critical electronic equipment.
- Upgrading the capacity of existing water treatment plant.
Distribution costs include:
- Installing blow offs on dead ends.
- Installing isolation valves.
- Looping distribution systems.
- Installing additional fire hydrants.
- Providing additional water trucks.
- Replacing cisterns.
- Replacing pipeline.
Source costs include:
- Abandoning and decommissioning wells.
- Constructing raw water pipelines.
- Drilling, testing, developing and equipping new wells.
- Providing aeration systems for freeze protection.
- Providing wellhead protection.
- Providing standby power.
Additional annual operations and maintenance costs, shown in Table 4.3, include costs that occur annually for items that are not currently being completed to meet protocols, such as calibrating monitoring equipment, additional sampling, cleaning the reservoir, and backup operator’s salary.
|Water O&M Total Estimated Cost||$145,650|
The total estimated cost, inlcuding construction and non-construction costs, for water system upgrades to meet the INAC Protocol is $15.7 million. This excludes costs associated with potentially GUDI systems, as discussed previously.
The total construction cost estimate for wastewater system upgrades to meet Protocol is $12.2 million. Specific needs along with the number of systems impacted and the total cost for each is provided below.
Upgrading treatment capacity and pumping stations represents over 72% of the cost associated with upgrades needed to meet Protocol.
Treatment, Collection System and Standby Power are the categories with the highest cumulative upgrade costs.
Treatment costs include:
- Constructing additional lagoon cells.
- Constructing new mechanical treatment facilities.
- Providing fences for security.
- Providing flow meters.
- Providing new pumping stations.
Collection System costs include:
- Installing cleanouts.
- Providing new sewage trucks.
- Retrofitting sewage pumping stations.
Standby Power costs include:
- Providing standby power for sewage pumping stations.
Additional annual operations and maintenance costs, as shown in Table 4.6, include costs that occur annually, for items that are not currently being completed to meet protocols, such as calibrating monitoring equipment, additional sampling, and backup operator’s salary.
|Wastewater O&M Total Estimated Cost||$298,500|
The total estimated cost, including construction and non-construction costs, for wastewater system upgrades is $12.5 million.
Table 4.7 provides a summary of the upgrade costs for the Protocol, Federal and Provincial Guidelines.
The following tables present a breakdown of the Protocol upgrade costs by risk level.
|Risk Level||Short Term||Long Term||Total|
|Risk Level||Short Term||Long Term||Total|
ACRS inspections were completed for water and wastewater related assets. In Quebec region, not all First Nations complete ACRS, and the ACRS inspection was completed only for those with assets entered in the INAC database. The following table summarizes the ACRS needs identified. For the purposes of this assessment, ACRS needs were limited to required repairs of existing facilities, and did not include any upgrade costs, in order to avoid duplication with the Upgrade to Protocol needs identified. The following two tables (Tables 4.10 and 4.11) provide a summary of the O&M repairs required broken down by asset for both water and wastewater, respectively.
|Asset Code||Description||Estimated Cost|
|B1H||High Lift Pumping||$358,800|
|Water ACRS Total Estimated Cost||$827,125|
An analysis was completed to evaluate future servicing alternatives for a 10 year design period. Alternatives considered include expanding existing systems, developing new systems, establishing local Municipal Type Agreements (if applicable), and use of individual systems. A theoretical operations and maintenance cost has been developed for each alternative along with a 30 year life cycle cost. The cost for upgrades to meet protocol is included in the new servicing cost, if appropriate, i.e. for new servicing alternatives that included continued use of the existing system. A summary of the capital cost along with the estimated total O&M cost for the recommended servicing alternatives are shown below.
The following table summarizes the capital cost and the total estimated operation & maintenance cost of the recommended servicing alternatives.
|Total Estimated Cost||Cost Per Connection|
|Future Servicing Cost||$210,000,000||$170,000,000||$11,100||$9,100|
|Annual O&M to service future growth||$13,800,000||$8,900,000||$700||$500|
The evaluation of future servicing included continuing to service the existing population with the same level of service that was currently in place and evaluating the options for providing service to the future 10 year growth for the community.
Predominantly, it was found that the life cycle costs for extending piped water and wastewater servicing for the future growth was the most cost effective solution. This assumes that future homes would be constructed in a compact subdivision setting adjacent to the existing serviced area. This however will need to be confirmed through detailed studies for each community.
The 37 First Nations visited during the completion of this project are serviced by 39 water systems (including 8 Municipal Type Agreement systems) and 39 wastewater systems (including 10 Municipal Type Agreement systems).
The types of systems vary from First Nation to First Nation. In the Quebec Region, 91% of the homes are serviced by communal water, 8% are serviced by individual wells and the remaining homes do not have water servicing.
There are 11 surface water systems in the Quebec Region. There is generally no major concern for systems using surface water, except for one community which has a medium risk due to industry and agriculture activities, and another community which has a potential future risk from a mining operation upstream.
There are 19 groundwater systems and 1 groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) system. In areas where a proven groundwater source has been identified, it is recommended that these communities continue to use groundwater to meet the demands for future growth.
There are eight First Nations water systems serviced by MTA’s (municipal type agreement). The services provided through MTA in this Region are satisfactory and should be continued since they are usually the more economical servicing solution. In the few instances where there may be quality issues, communities should negotiate with the MTA service provider to improve the service.
Of the 39 wastewater systems, 22 are lagoons and 10 are MTA. There are only 5 mechanical sewage treatment systems in the Quebec Region. The aerated lagoons used in the Region have a good track record. It is an uncomplicated system that is relatively easy to maintain and has a much lower O&M cost than mechanical systems. While the initial capital cost for a lagoon system may be higher, the savings in O&M cost over the life cycle of the system and the reliability of the system will more than make up for the higher initial capital cost.
There are seven water systems and seven wastewater systems in the Quebec region identified as high-risk systems. While there are multiple factors contributing to risk, design and operational concerns are given the most weight, particularly when the concern is related to the protection of public health or the environment. The high risk systems in the region typically require system upgrades or improved operational procedures to meet the guidelines for treated water quality or sewage effluent quality.
Based on the data collected, operator risk was the lowest of the component risks. However, it is important to provide ongoing training for operators to ensure that all systems are operated and maintained by trained/certified operators and that monitoring and record keeping is completed in accordance with the Protocol.
Wastewater sampling prior to effluent discharge appears to be an area where a significant impact on the overall risk could be addressed. Sampling, testing and recording of effluent quality prior to discharge would result in reducing the reporting risk for these systems.
- By comparison, the average per capita consumption across Canada in 2004 was 329 L/c/d, according to Environment Canada data. (return to source paragraph)
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