How the ground water industry can help with First Nations water issues
June 27, 2017 By Ground Water Canada
OGWA executive director Craig Stainton would very much like to see properly drilled, installed, and maintained wells in more First Nations communities. He believes ground water should be used wherever possible, that each home should have a well, that its occupant should know how to maintain it, and that this should be accomplished in accordance with regulatory standards, which in the case of Ontario are the Wells Regulations.
“If each individual home had its own well and pumping system, the occupant would conceivably incur a sense of ownership and responsibility,” Stainton says.
Additionally, this approach takes the infrastructure emphasis off linking communities to a municipal-style system that relies on substantially treated and distributed surface water.
“When one [well] is down, it’s not the whole village, and ground water is generally much less likely to require the heavy treatment that surface water demands, ” he says.
Inez Miller, executive director for the Manitoba Water Well Association, sees potential in partnerships and an organizational structure to make the best use of limited resources.
“Whether it be with a tribal council, whether it be on band council, I see the water well associations acting as resources,” Miller says, adding that the associations are the industry experts. “It’s not creating employment for the water well drillers or anything like that. It’s acting as resources. You start with some kind of partnership arrangement with the federal government or medical services or Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada which have infrastructure control.”
For example, there could be partnerships to design and develop delivery programs.
“Certainly, I think one of the greatest needs we have in the First Nation communities is education for the well owners on the care and maintenance of wells,” Miller says, adding that education programs need to be one on one and at the community level. “For lack of a better word, call it outreach work.”
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