Ensuring safe drinking water in small, rural and indigenous communities has long been recognized as a priority for many researchers, NGOs, and government organizations. However, many conventional strategies and programs have not produced sustainable results and there are increasing numbers of communities facing challenging water issues. Among the challenges that set small and First Nations systems apart from larger urban centres include their chronic lack of financial resources for infrastructure investment, as well as limited access to skilled workers and adequate technical information and suitable technologies. Complicating the issue is the fact that source waters for many such communities exhibit high seasonal and geographic variability, meaning that multiple solutions may be required to achieve proper disinfection – exacerbating the funding and technology gaps with which these communities must cope.
This talk focuses on highlighting some of the challenges facing Canadian small and First Nations communities, and provides an analysis on some of the relevant innovations and initiatives towards a better solution in this area. In particular, there will be a discussion on the approach and strategies adopted by RES’EAU-WaterNET strategic network, which takes the research program out of the lab and into the real world, incorporating stakeholders’ insight and priorities at the early stages of problem solving process.