Canadian Students are Waiting to Learn about Drinking Water Quality Issues and Solutions
Many Canadian schools are on the waiting list for sponsored kits. Please click on the map to discover if schools in your area, the school your children attend or the school from which you graduated is waiting for a sponsored kit. Please donate a kit to a school today!
The SDWF Has Developed Problem-Based Learning Sets for Operation Water Drop, Operation Water Pollution and Operation Water Biology
Our Problem-Based Learning sets will be used by teachers to compliment the water testing kits and give a more complete knowledge base on the topic of safe drinking water. These sets are comprised of inquiry learning activities for the students. The teacher takes on the role of a facilitator of learning and lets the students teach themselves through research and critical thinking.
Water Fact of the Week
At 50 gallons per day, residential Europeans use about half of the water that residential Americans use.
Attention All Saskatchewan Teachers
Partners for the Saskatchewan River Basin has launched an educational program called “Caring for our Watersheds” that encourages students from grades 7-12 to submit proposals that answer the question: “What can you do to improve your watershed?” Students enter to win cash prizes and may have access to extra funds to implement their proposal. As a bonus, all the schools that enter the contest will be entered to win one of two water bottle filling stations. Partners for the Saskatchewan River Basin would love to come to your classrooms and do a presentation about the program and help students brainstorm ideas for proposals. They are now booking visits for 2014! If you have any questions please contact Amber at Aburton@saskriverbasin.ca
CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) Enough is Enough Campaign: Access to Water isn't a privilege. It is a right.
The Enough is Enough campaign is in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations and the Safe Drinking Water Foundation
It is unacceptable that any Indigenous people in Canada – First Nations, Métis and Inuit - should be subjected to conditions where there is no access to safe drinking water. Numerous examples of the deplorable conditions that exist in many First Nations clearly demonstrate that access to clean water for all First Nation citizens is not a priority for the federal government. These conditions would not be tolerated in any other Canadian communities, and if they do occur, swift and decisive action is the norm and is expected.
Protecting our water from the harmful effects of development is a responsibility we all share. Clean drinking water is a right for all.
Governments must work with First Nations and the public in the delivery and development of a clear, responsible, sustainable water management plan. This plan must include water regulations supported by proper funding for water and wastewater treatment plants, training for water operators, adequate baseline studies, proper monitoring, cumulative impact assessment, and ensure important habitat is projected for fish and wildlife.
For more information and to take action by signing the petition please visit http://cupe.ca/takeAction.php?action=showAction&actionID=294
CBC Radio program discusses why Canadians get sick from tap water
On the June 19th, 2013 radio program “The Current” on CBC Radio Anna Maria Tremonti discussed the topic “Why Canadians get sick from tap water”. The information contained in the program included the fact that on any given day there are an estimated 1,500 Boil Water Advisories in effect across Canada. To listen to the program please visit http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/ID/2392365865/
We are in the news!
John Diefenbaker School waits for sponsored education kit
That’s because educator Colleen Berge saw an opportunity to get a sponsored Safe Drinking Water Kit for her Grade 8 class at John Diefenbaker School and took it.
Water purity is one of the units her class is studying, the Grade 8 and physical education teacher said, and added that hands-on learning is a big part of the curriculum. “So, I thought that the whole kit idea would kind of give them that opportunity and even with all the things we’ve had going on with our own water treatment system this past year in Prince Albert, I thought it was kind of cool to see what really is in the water system and how it is tested to make it safe for our drinking.”
Berge said the opportunity came through for funding and thought it wouldn’t hurt to use a product available to the school. Not all schools, however, took advantage of the general offer for the kits – which surprised Berge.
“Sometimes, funds are a little bit tight, and I guess it’s – you have to choose where you think the funds are most necessary, and because there was an option of getting this funded, I definitely took advantage of it,” she said. “And I was lucky to get it, let’s face it.”
The effect of reduced spending on educators’ ability to get hands-on materials for their students is a concern shared by the executive director of SDWF, Nicole Hancock.
“There are a lot of teachers that have had their funding cut for their classrooms and are unable to provide hands-on materials for their students,” Hancock said. “And hands-on learning is how most students learn best.”
Her foundation provides thousands of drinking kits to schools across Canada in both English and French. The kits are priced between $70 to $140, and sponsor and donor funds have prevented many schools from paying out of pocket.
Toronto-Dominion Bank Group is one of the current main sponsors. Other major companies and organizations – including Mosaic and SaskTel – have sponsored the program.
The kits give students an opportunity to learn about the issues facing drinking water and conduct hands-on experiments, Hancock said.
The foundation has been providing the Operation Water Drop Kits to schools since 2001. Back then, only a handful of them were distributed within Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Since the program’s inception, 184 Saskatchewan schools have received kits.
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Hundreds of schools, including one in P.A., on SDWF kit waiting list
Above is the ammonium test card for the Safe Drinking Water Foundation’s High School Operation Water Drop kit.
“We send out a massive email to tens of thousands of schools in the fall and also follow up with reminder emails, and that’s when most people set up,” SDWF executive director Nicole Hancock said.
The SWDF aims to ship out about 1,000 kits per year, with an average of 50,000 students benefiting from 1,000 kits. By issuing these kits, the SDWF’s main goal is to educate students about drinking water quality.
“It kind of depends on the program. In the case of the Operation Water Drop kits, (students) learn about their local water and how water is tested in actual labs,” Hancock said. “They learn about the guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality, and they see if their local drinking water meets all of those guidelines.”
In addition to educating students about drinking water quality issues and solutions, teachers and principals have attested to the kits allowing the opportunity for more hands-on learning with regard to science experiments.
“It motivates them to take more science classes and to pursue careers in science,” Hancock said.
Schools in rural Saskatchewan tend not to acquire SDWF kits because the foundation’s largest funder, TD Bank Group, has fewer branches in those areas. However, Mosaic ensured that every Saskatchewan school received the kits they requested last year by contributing more than $10,000.
“There are not as many (schools) in Saskatchewan as there are in some of the other provinces, but there is definitely still a need in many communities in Saskatchewan,” Hancock said. “It really depends on where they’re located (to determine) what their chances are of (acquiring sponsored kits).
“It depends on where we get funding from, but if you’re not in Saskatchewan, then odds are your chances are not very good if you don’t have a TD Bank in your community,” Hancock added.
Past users of the SDWF kits have included the Ranch Ehrlo Society and a number of schools in Prince Albert and the surrounding area. Currently, John Diefenbaker School is the only school in the city of Prince Albert on the waiting list.
Watch this motivational video!
First Nations and Source Water Protection by Dr. Robert J. Patrick
Most urban Canadians enjoy safe and plentiful drinking water. This is largely the result of reliable water supplies, advanced water treatment technologies, and sufficient water operator knowledge. When water quality issues do emerge, as was the case in Walkerton, Ontario (E. Coli contamination 2000 : 7 deaths and 2300 illnesses) and North Battleford, Saskatchewan (Cryptosporidium 2001: hundreds of illnesses) media attention is swift and corrective measures are immediate. After all, a contamination event of a public water supply in a developed country like Canada is normally unexpected. Within a year of these separate events public inquiries recommended new provincial regulatory frameworks, new water treatment upgrades, and new legislation to protect sources of drinking water. Yet, the same level of media attention, public awareness, and water policy development respecting access to safe drinking water is conspicuously absent for Indigenous communities across Canada.
The public health and economic benefits of SWP are broadly discussed in the literature. SWP aims to reduce the risk of waterborne contamination at the water source. SWP also makes economic sense for at least three principal reasons. First, it is reported to be many times less expensive to protect a water source from contamination than it is to remediate after contamination. Second, it has been shown to be more cost effective to invest in natural capital, such as purchasing development rights or land acquisition within a watershed, rather than to invest in physical capital, such as water treatment technologies. Third, SWP, as the first barrier of defence for clean drinking water, significantly reduces water treatment challenges and costs. Yet, for all its benefits, SWP has proven to be difficult to practice on the ground. One of the main barriers to SWP is the lack of integration in the way in which planning is practiced in Canada. Land and water have historically been planned in isolation by separate agencies often operating at cross purposes. An alternative approach to safe drinking water would see increased SWP diligence, but not to the exclusion of other aspects of the multi-barrier approach.
Once developed, any plan requires action. This is the implementation phase and where financial resources may be necessary to implement identified management actions. This is where partnership and multi-stakeholder engagement early on in the process may help to secure industry and government funding to bring action to the plan. The goal of SWP planning is to identify potential risks to a water source and then to identify management actions to help reduce risk. Each community will look at risk slightly differently. A low risk in one community may be a medium of high risk in another. Often the elimination of all risks will not be feasible; therefore the reduction of risk is the aim.
Framework for Safe Drinking Water
The Framework for Safe Drinking Water was completed in August 2011.
In Canada municipalities own and are responsible for drinking water treatment facilities and must supply the public with safe drinking water. This task is often more difficult in rural municipalities. Smaller communities generally have less expertise, fewer resources, and poorer quality source water than larger cities. Another problem is that most existing water treatment technologies are optimized for larger centres and may not work as well when scaled down. The Framework for Safe Drinking Water is meant to counter these challenges and streamline the daunting task of building new or updating older drinking water treatment facilities. By looking at it from both the legal and health perspectives we can help communities get the safest drinking water possible.
Operation Water Drop - Allows students to perform hands-on tests on their local water and compare their water to other water samples and the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality
Operation Water Pollution - Students learn about what water pollution is, what can be done about the problem, and what they can personally do about the problem.
Operation Water Biology - Teaches students about chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, iron and biological water treatment (a more environmentally friendly method of treating drinking water)
Operation Water Health - Students are guided through an examination of health issues related to drinking water
Operation Water Flow - A cross-curricular program that gives students a more thorough understanding of issues surrounding drinking water
Operation Water Spirit - Conveys Aboriginal culture and perspectives regarding drinking water
Operation Community Water Footprint - Allows students to calculate how much source water their community uses in order to produce each litre of drinking water