Wastewater in First Nations communities

Learn about wastewater in First Nations communities.

Disposing of wastewater and sewage

Wastewater is also known as sewage. It can harm humans, as it can:

  • spread diseases
  • pollute surface and groundwater sources

Indigenous Services Environmental Public Health (EPHP) program's focus is on:

  • on-site sewage disposal systems
  • community sewage treatment systems

To reduce and prevent public health risks, we:

  • detect current and potential hazards related to sewage disposal
  • help First Nations plan and site their single sewage septic systems
  • review plans and provide advice for new and upgraded wastewater treatment systems

For sewage systems on federal and Aboriginal lands as defined under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, Environment Canada:

  • develops standards, guidelines and/or protocols
  • provides advice and technical expertise on federal legislation requirements

Key tasks

Services provided to First Nations communities by the Environmental Public Health Program include:

  • Funding and advice on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of water and wastewater facilities
  • Environmental Public Health Assessment:
    • inspect sites and installations for new and expanded on-site sewage disposal systems
    • provide public health inspections of:
      • wastewater treatment systems
      • on-site sewage disposal systems
    • give advice on sewage treatment and disposal systems, including information on proper:
      • design
      • maintenance
      • decommissioning of sites
  • Public education:
    • educate home dwellers and owners on how to:
      • maintain an on-site sewage disposal system
      • reduce risks related to sewage discharge
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