Drinking water monitoring

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Indigenous Services Canada's role

We support clean, safe, reliable drinking water by:

  • regularly monitoring all drinking water systems where the public has access
  • providing residents, upon request and free of charge, bacteriological testing services of their well water
  • reviewing plans and providing advice from a public health perspective for new and upgraded water treatment systems

Through our Community-based Water Monitor Program, we:

  • provide funds to Chiefs and Councils for bacteriological drinking water monitoring
  • train community-based drinking water quality monitors to sample and test the drinking water for potential bacteriological contamination as a final check of the drinking water at tap

The Community-based Water Monitor Program is particularly important in places where it is difficult or impossible to:

  • sample and test on a regular basis
  • get the samples to a laboratory in a timely manner

If a First Nation community does not have a water quality monitor, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) can do the sampling and testing. An EHO is a Certified Public Health Inspector hired by Indigenous Services Canada or by First Nations stakeholders.

Environmental Health Officers:

  • test drinking water for contaminants that are:
    • physical
    • chemical
    • radiological
  • maintain quality assurance and control
  • review and interpret drinking water quality tests
  • share the test results with First Nations communities
  • advise the Chief and Council on what actions to take, such as issuing a drinking water advisory, when drinking water is not safe

In the case of a drinking water advisory, we:

  • help with follow up sampling and investigation to find the source of the problem
  • provide recommendations on how to fix the problem to:
    • the Chief and Council
    • federal partners if necessary

If an immediate threat to the health and safety of the community is identified, it is the Chief and Council's responsibility to take necessary action to protect residents.

Toolkits and procedures

Indigenous Services Canada has developed a number of toolkits to help with drinking water issues.

The Water Advisory Toolkit for First Nations:

  • has basic information about issuing and lifting DWAs on-reserve
  • is meant to help First Nations inform their communities about water use when there is a problem with the community's tap water

The Procedure for Addressing Drinking Water Advisories in First Nations Communities, South of 60°:

  • was created with Indigenous Services and other stakeholders
  • guides Chiefs, Councils and other stakeholders on how to deal with the underlying causes of a DWA after it has been issued

The Toolkit for Individual Wells for First Nations contains:

  • public awareness items for First Nations served by:
    • single wells
    • wells with less than 5 connections
  • a step-by-step checklist to:
    • prevent well contamination
    • help visually inspect and maintain wells

Contact us

You may contact us by email at fnihb_drinkingwater.dgspni_eaupotable@hc-sc.gc.ca.

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