ARCHIVED - Safe Water Is Life - Jon Widney: Water System operator / Takhini River Subdivision, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN)

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My name is Jon Widney and I work for the Champagne & Aishihik First Nations. I am a water operator and delivery personnel.

We are at Takhini River Subdivision; we are about 50 km outside of Whitehorse, just on the outskirts of Champagne and Ashihik First Nations' traditional territory.

You take for granted how much work is involved in treating water. Now actually, when I turn the taps on I have to think to myself what I actually did that day to make sure myself that I know the water is clean. We get to outsmart the water and the contaminants that could possibly get into it.

And I have to test it – every time I fill the truck. Testing, testing, testing –everything's got to be tested and then re-tested. You`ve got to check the pressures, make sure nothing is wrong with all your systems; you've got to ensure that the water truck and the water system are clean.

Then, I have to record all my pressures and voltages and everything on every load.

If it wasn`t for me they would not have any water – no baths, no showers, no drinks.

I am just a man delivering water….

Testing…I have to test what`s in my storage tanks - what I am filling the truck with, I have to test the first house and the last house of every load.

Have to check and see that this area is all clean.  

I had to give out notices because I was refusing to deliver them water until they cleaned it up. But there's nothing they can do. They normally get on it right away, clean it up and then I will be in there an hour later.

I have to keep everything away from this nozzle, I got to keep it clean, got to make sure nothing has run into it and I'll try to clean off my hose.

I believe that if you are actually thinking of getting into the water treatment / distribution you should try it. I don`t regret getting into this field, and I don`t think I ever will - one of the best jobs I actually had. You feel you like you`ve done something because everybody can take a shower and drink a glass of water and not have to worry about getting sick.

I've had many courses - training in chlorine, water delivery operations; I took training in level 1 water operators.

I like to make sure I put my truck away, disinfected and clean – so the next time I have to use the delivery truck it is clean to go.

Just in case there is any contaminants from the snow or any dirt left on the hoses.

I would have to disinfect once a month. I have to super-chlorinate my tank and let it sit for 24 hours, and then drain it off – and I got to kill the chlorine as I am dumping the tank as I can't have that much chlorine going anywhere in the environment.

This is water from our treatment system, this is the final product. And I know it`s safe – yumyum!

Because my wife and children live in the same community, so I do actually have to deliver safe water to my own house and make sure it`s safe because I have a three-year old son and a six-year old daughter that could very easily get sick.

It is my own family and I need to ensure that my children have safe drinkable water.


For more information, contact your local First Nation government or Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in Whitehorse, on the web or call 1-800-661-0451.

Published under the authority of the
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Ottawa, 2012
TTY only 1-866-553-0554

QS- QS-Y369-000-EE-A1

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2012