Assessing drinking water governance in British Columbia, with focus on water quality in First Nations

Water Economics, Policy and Governance Network (WEPGN)

Assessing drinking water governance in British Columbia, with focus on water quality in First Nations

Project Description:

We are launching a new project out of UBC's Program on Water Governance: Assessing Drinking Water Governance in British Columbia, focusing on water quality and assessment in First Nations. In B.C. and across Canada, many First Nations face significant challenges with respect to drinking water quality, and endure the health and related consequences of inadequate water and wastewater systems. With a growing trend in Canada of devolution of control over water monitoring and treatment to local-scale governance authorities, enhancing communities' capacity to assume these responsibilities and effectively assess and manage drinking water remains an urgent concern. First Nations governance processes are particularly complex, with a suite of legislation and federal institutions, as well as the broader context of self-governance important for these communities. This situation raises important questions that we will research and address: How transparent, accurate and accessible is water monitoring data for British Columbia First Nations? How does data availability influence First Nations’ self-governance in the water realm? Which factors, including funding arrangements and training programs, or broader governance considerations in the province, might enhance First Nations’ capacity to govern and monitor drinking water supplies? Through attention to these questions, the overarching project aim is to contribute to improved capacity to deal with water quality changes in the context of self-governance in First Nations communities.


Leila Harris, Karen Bakker, & Emma Norman


In addition to developing collaborative partnerships with First Nations organizations and communities, confirmed project partners include the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Network on Environment and Women’s Health, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources, and Environment Canada.

Graduate Students:

Rosie Simms