Drinking water source water protection plan implementation: barriers and supports for First Nations
Grant, Kellie 1964-
Access to safe drinking water in First Nations communities is an ongoing problem in Canada with approximately one in five First Nations communities under a drinking water advisory at any one time. The incidence of waterborne illness, resulting from contaminated drinking water, affecting First Nations is more than double that in non-First Nations communities in Canada. Poor source water quality originating from natural conditions is one explanation for this situation; however, other factors also play a role including lack of effective water treatment, lack of water distribution systems, and land use activities and practices that negatively affect source water quality. Sophisticated water treatment and monitoring of treated drinking water is one method to ensure drinking water is safe for human consumption. In contrast, Drinking Water Source Water Protection (DWSWP) takes a preventative approach to the protection of groundwater and surface water used as sources for drinking water. The DWSWP planning process begins with the identification of risks to drinking water sources and ends with plan implementation. In the context of this research, risks are defined as anything that might cause chemical or biological contamination to drinking water sources. The problem is that there has been little research into ensuring that the plans are implemented. This research identified and described 1) the chemical and biological risks to the groundwater source of drinking water in the Muskowekwan First Nation; 2) barriers to First Nations DWSWP plan implementation; and 3) factors supporting First Nations DWSWP plan implementation. Research methods included a literature review to identify institutional arrangements to support DWSWP plan implementation in First Nations. Next, case study research to undertake a DWSWP planning process with Muskowekwan First Nation was undertaken. The case study to identify the chemical and biological risks to the groundwater source of drinking water, develop an implementation strategy for the DWSWP plan and reveal barriers to and opportunities for plan implementation. Semi-structured interviews with key informants were conducted to document existing programs that might support the implementation of DWSWP plans and any known barriers to and supports for DWSWP plan implementation. Interviews also provided data regarding known barriers to the efficient application of these programs for the purposes of DWSWP plan implementation. Document Review, using a set of parameters, was undertaken to analyze the documents associated with the noted programs to identify program accessibility, funding availability, and educational programs and planning tools that might support DWSWP plan implementation. Results indicate that, while programs exist to support First Nations DWSWP plan implementation, dedicated funding is required. Educational opportunities and increased awareness of the importance of DWSWP for those responsible for the provision of safe drinking water in First Nations and better communication among stakeholders, including First Nations administration, Provincial and Federal Government agencies, and non-government watershed organizations, is required to support the implementation of these plans. In addition, the continued prioritization of funding directed toward sophisticated water treatment over activities aimed at protecting raw water sources from becoming contaminated is a barrier to First Nations DWSWP plan implementation.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentGeography and Planning
CommitteePatrick, Robert J; Bharadwaj, Lalita; Hackett, Paul
Copyright DateMay 2016
SWP, DWSWP, plan implementation, First Nations, prioritization