ARCHIVED - Safe Water Is Life - Tony Netro, Water System Operator, Taku River Tlingit First Nation

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Atlin, located in the north-west corner of British Columbia, Canada, is the traditional homeland of the Taku River Tlingit.

Members of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation live predominantly in two communities on Atlin Lake, situated near the Yukon Territory border.  One community is in the town of Atlin and another is at Five Mile, on the Warm Bay Road. Each community has its own water treatment system to serve the needs of the Taku River Tlingit people.

Atlin area residents get their water from Atlin Lake.  When surface, or lake, water is used, it must be treated to a higher standard because of the increased risk of micro-organisms from the lake.

Tony Netro, water system operator, Taku River Tlingit First Nation:

And this is where the beginning of the system starts- from the intake here. And then it goes toward the water shop.

Tony's son, Joseph Netro

I'm originally from Old Crow, I grew up in Whitehorse… I'm a single dad, living on Five Mile with my thirteen-year-old boy.


Within the town of Atlin, the Taku River Tlingit First Nation owns and operates a complex water treatment plant with a piped-water distribution system. 

Tony Netro:

It comes out of the distribution loop here, and it goes into sequence through…past the band office…back down…to the loop.


A complex system is needed to treat the water and carefully monitor the raw water quality. The water operators who work the system must have a higher level of training.

Tony Netro:

I do a daily test – residual chlorine, turbidity, water flow, UV and the pressure gauges.


At the community of Five Mile, approximately 10 kilometres south from town, the Taku River Tlingit First Nation owns and operates a second water treatment plant with a water-truck distribution system.

Franklin Patterson, Circuit Rider Trainer:

My name is Franklin Patterson, I'm from Mayo Yukon. I come from the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun.


In September 2012, Franklin Patterson was hired as the first Aboriginal Circuit Rider Trainer for the Yukon Region. 

The Circuit Rider Trainer program offers cost-free, hands-on training and mentoring services to all First Nation water and wastewater system operators across Canada.

Franklin Patterson:

We go around and ensure that the First Nations are doing their maintenance on the equipment, make sure the plant is up and running.


Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada helped create the Circuit Rider program. It is a national initiative aimed at supporting and building the technical capacity and knowledge of First Nation water operators for them to provide safe drinking water for their communities. 

Tony Netro:

Trouble light's off, it was good. Good deal – thanks a lot.

So going through all these components in the water shop, it makes clean, clear, drinking water for myself, my family and the community, and I feel good about that.

Tony Netro:

It is a good job – I like the hours, you know, when it does get busy, it gets busy – but there are hours there for my family, too.

Joseph Netro:

That's some good water.

Tony Netro:

I feel good about having clean, clear, safe drinking water out there for everybody.


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

A production of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada



Werner Walcher

Fresh From The Yukon Inc.


Christine Genier

Thanks to

Tony Netro, Franklin Patterson, Joseph Netro and the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada represented by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada 2013