Tapping In: Community-Based Water Monitoring Program in Atlantic Canadian First Nations Communities
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Drinking water quality is an issue in First Nations communities across Canada. To address this, in 2003 Health Canada created the Community-Based Water Monitoring Program across Canada to employ First Nations community members to monitor their own community’s drinking water. This study was part of a larger audit conducted by the Centre for Water Resources Studies to determine the effects this program had on water quality in Atlantic Canada, and to test its compliance with federal standards. Water quality data from WaterTrax (online database) for all First Nations in Atlantic Canada was evaluated for the following parameters: free chlorine residual, total coliforms, Escherichia coli, trihalomethanes, and haloacetic acids between 2007 and 2012. It was found that at least one third of all sites were not meeting the sampling frequency recommended in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality for chlorine and microbial samples. There was some improvement in total coliform concentration, and little to no improvement for the other parameters. No definitive conclusions could be drawn because there were not enough samples taken to provide an accurate representation of overall water quality. These findings indicate a need to re-evaluate the program’s training and implementation effectiveness, and to also determine the cause(s) behind the poor water quality found in these communities.