Boil Water Advisories Lifted for Two First Nations Reserves

Success validates community focused inclusive R&D

Two First Nations reserves in British Columbia (IR3 Spintlum and IR11 Yawaucht in the Lytton First Nations) are celebrating the lifting of long-standing Boil Water Advisories (BWAs) thanks to a cross-institutional, collaborative problem-solving approach developed by RES’EAU-WaterNET.

The project united the efforts of several partnering organizations including the First Nations Health Authority, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the First Nations' Operators Water Net for British Columbia & Yukon Territories and private manufacturing, consulting and contracting firms. They worked closely throughout fourth quarter of 2016 with the Lytton First Nations leadership, dedicated water operators, and residents, to assess the feasibility of Point-of-entry (POE) systems to meet site specific needs of individual systems (those serving fewer than five homes).

These systems were not included in the national assessment conducted by INAC between 2009 and 2011.

Specifically, the pilot program sought to determine the circumstances under which a POE approach would be cost effective compared with other alternative treatment options. The team will continue to identify site-specific considerations that could impact the system’s effectiveness, such as water quality variations, water demand, pilot test protocols, public education, technology selection, installation, operations, monitoring plans, liabilities, capital and O&M costs and logistic and administration strategies.

RES’EAU-WaterNET is a five-year, $8 million research network comprised of 18 world-class scientists from eight universities across Canada, supported by more than 100 students and post-doctoral fellows. The program leverages over $5 million in human and technological capital from major public and private partners to support the implementation of its Community Circles approach to innovation, which takes the research program out of the lab and into the real world.

The globally unique Community Circles model places as much emphasis upon end-user communities, understanding and respecting the culture and unique requirements of end users and citizens in the community as on technological development, economic considerations, operations and maintenance issues and environmental stewardship.

RES’EAU also works closely with community partners to understand the limitations and constraints they face. This consultative process involves meaningful outreach and communications activities with key community decision makers and stakeholders. The end-user perspective is also captured, as their buy-in and support – and ultimate satisfaction with any new drinking water system – is integral to success.

By the end of 2016, new POE systems were in place, and the BWA's were lifted in January 2017. Follow-up work to assess the community's satisfaction and -in collaboration with the residents and operators- to monitor system performance and operations and maintenance costs will continue. Information and data gathered during this period will help to determine if POE systems are a robust, cost-effective solution for small, remote communities where a centralized water system would be cost prohibitive.

Lessons Learned:  


Pictured, top: A home on the remote reserve. Below: Installing the POE system in a home. 


A project celebration at the Lytton First Nation community, May 2017.

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