First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan


Name of Horizontal Initiative: First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan

Name of Lead Department(s): Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)

Lead Department Program Activity: Community Infrastructure

Start Date: April 1, 2008

End Date: March 31, 2014

Total Federal Funding Allocation (from start date to end date): $735,639,806 for the first two years. Of this amount $202,500,000 in each of 2008-2009 and 2009–2010 are funded from existing reference levels. New funds of $165,318,143 in 2008–2009 and $165,321,663 in 2009–2010, including employee benefit plans and Public Works and Government Services Canada accommodation requirements, are sourced from the Fiscal Framework, as confirmed in Budget 2008.

The program was extended for an additional two years, with funding confirmed as part of Budget 2010. This will provide an additional $845,547,800 in investments into water and wastewater infrastructure over the two additional years.

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement): The prime objective of the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP) is to support First Nation communities on reserves in bringing their drinking water and wastewater services to a level and quality of service comparable to those enjoyed by Canadians living in communities of similar size and location. There are five key activity areas in the FNWWAP: infrastructure investments; operations and maintenance; training; monitoring and awareness; and standards.

To meet the objectives of the FNWWAP, several program enhancements have been introduced, including a national engineering assessment of existing water and wastewater facilities; consultations on a new federal legislative framework for safe drinking water; increased training through the Circuit Rider training program; modification of existing policies related to small water and septic systems and agreements for water and wastewater services; investment in a National Wastewater Program; and development of waterborne illness procedures.

The FNWWAP was implemented as part of government commitments in the 2007 Speech from the Throne, Budget 2008, Budget 2010, and Budget 2012 to support First Nations' access to safe drinking water. It supports the continued commitment to promote access to clean water in Aboriginal communities announced in the 2011 Speech from the Throne.

The FNWWAP supports AANDC's strategic outcome, The Land and The Economy: Full participation of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals and communities in the economy. The FNWWAP also supports the Health Canada (HC) strategic outcome of the department's First Nations and Inuit Health Programming and Services: Better health outcomes and reduction of health inequalities between First Nations and Inuit and other Canadians.

More information is available at these websites:

Shared Outcome(s): The FNWWAP works toward the achievement of four outcomes:

  • First Nation communities have an increased capacity to address potential water quality problems.
  • Health risks associated with water quality and supply are reduced.
  • All First Nation community water and wastewater facilities meet federal standards.
  • First Nation communities have increased confidence in their drinking water.

Governance Structure(s): The FNWWAP is a successor to the joint First Nations Water Management Strategy (2003–2008) and the AANDC Plan of Action for Drinking Water (2006–2008). A memorandum of understanding has been in place between INAC and HC since 2005 regarding data sharing related to drinking water. AANDC shares information on the proposed water and wastewater infrastructure investments; the annual inspections of water and wastewater treatment plants; and action related to drinking water advisories. Conversely, HC shares information such as drinking water sample results that do not meet the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and reasons for recommending drinking water advisories. At the working level, the Strategic Water Management on Reserve Committee, which includes representatives from HC, AANDC, Environment Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, provides a forum for discussion to share information and co-ordinate joint action, although this is not a formal decision-making body. It also provides integrated and co-ordinated leadership to ensure safe drinking water for First Nation communities and to implement FNWWAP.

Directors general and assistant deputy ministers from HC and AANDC meet when needed to exchange and co-ordinate action on all relevant issues related to the FNWWAP.

Performance Highlights: In July 2011, AANDC released the results of the National Assessment of First Nations Waster and Wastewater Systems, a comprehensive assessment of the state of water and wastewater systems on reserve. In response to the findings of the assessment, the Government of Canada worked with First Nations to identify concrete actions in the areas of capacity building and training, enforceable standards and protocols, and infrastructure investments. In 2011, AANDC followed up with inspections through the department's Annual Performance Inspections (API) cycle, which assessed water and wastewater systems in order to determine their risk levels and progress since the National Assessment.

Highlights of 2011–2012:

  • From 2010–2012, First Nations received from AANDC $424.7 million in capital funding and $253.4 million in operations and maintenance funding for water and wastewater projects. Projects funded included the construction of new treatment facilities, the construction of water and wastewater storage facilities, the expansion of existing systems, and the servicing of lots for new home construction. Over 2010–2012, 48 major water and wastewater infrastructure projects were completed in First Nations communities.
  • The National Assessment (2009–2010) concluded that 51% of water systems and 42% of wastewater systems were managed by operators certified to the level of the system that they operated. New Circuit Rider Trainer Program guidelines were developed to help standardize the program and to support operators in improving the management of operations and maintenance of their systems, and the Annual Performance Inspection results (2011–2012) indicate that 60.1% of water treatment systems and 53.9% of wastewater systems are now managed by operators certified to the level of the system.
  • The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act was introduced in the Senate as Bill S-8 on February 29, 2012.

Federal Partners Federal Partner Program Activity Names of Programs for Federal Partners Total Allocation (from start date to end date)
($ millions)
2011–12 ($ millions)
Health Canada,
Environment Canada
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program 1,342.2 Planned Spending: 335.3

Actual Spending:
301.4

Expected Results:
Increase in % of First Nations drinking water systems with low risk ratings.

Increase in % of First Nations wastewater systems with low risk ratings.

Results Achieved:


Water systems
Percentage of low-risk systems has increased from 25.2%to 34.5%.

Wastewater systems
Percentage of low-risk systems has increased from 31.2% to 45.1%.
Health Canada First Nations and Inuit Health Drinking Water Safety Program – FNNWAP funding 109.6 Planned Spending: 27.4 Actual Spending: 28.7

Expected Results:
Increase in the number of First Nations communities south of 60° with increased or maintained capacity to monitor their drinking water quality as per Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and reduce health risks associated with drinking water quality and supply. 

Results Achieved:
All First Nation communities had access to trained personnel (community-based water monitor or EHO) to sample and test drinking water quality at tap.

All FNWWAP EHO positions were staffed.

58% of public water systems (formerly called piped drinking water distribution systems) were monitored weekly in First Nations communities.

A total of 162 273 water samples were taken and analyzed. 57 903 bacteriological samples were analysed in accredited laboratories, 97 991 bacteriological samples were analyzed using a portable lab kit, 6 274 samples were analyzed for chemical parameters, and 105 samples were analyzed for radiological parameters.

All regions have a water database in place to monitor sample results.

There were no instances where gastrointestinal illness was identified as a possible waterborne disease outbreak.

38 water, wastewater, and solid waste project proposals were reviewed at headquarters from a public health perspective.

Health Canada published and distributed the following products: 1) Guidance for Designing, Installing, Maintaining and Decommissioning Drinking Water Cisterns in First Nations Communities South of 60°; 2) Guidance on Trucked Drinking Water Delivery in First Nations Communities South of 60°; 3) Is this water safe to drink? Poster; and 4) Door Hanger for residents served by cisterns.

Recruitment and retention strategies are on-going.
Drinking Water Safety Program – A based funding 20.0 Planned Spending: 5.0
Total 1,471.8 Total Planned Spending: 367.7
Total Actual Spending: 330.1

Comments on Variances: An additional $10M was reprofiled into 2011–12 to address projects that were late in starting. The variance between Planned and Actual Spending is due to internal reallocations to support programming other areas, including Education and Social Development.

Results Achieved by Non-Federal Partners (if applicable):  N/A

Contact Information:  

AANDC
David Smith
Acting Director
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Program Design and Regional Partnerships Directorate, Community Infrastructure Branch
Telephone: 819-953-6043
david.smith@aadnc-aandc.gc.ca

Health Canada
Ivy Chan
Director, Environmental Public Health Division
Health Canada
Telephone: 613-948-7773
ivy.chan@hc-sc.gc.ca