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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Water operator and community engagement to improve drinking water access in First Nations in British Columbia Livingstone, Kaitlynn Anne

Abstract

Lack of access to safe drinking water is an issue disproportionately affecting First Nations in Canada and putting the health of First Nations communities at risk. Many First Nations in British Columbia are facing additional challenges for water treatment system design due to their small population and rural and remote location. Investing in infrastructure alone is not sufficient to ensure long-term water access and protection of community health. Water operators have been identified as key individuals to engage to ensure community appropriate water treatment solution design as well as long-term operation and maintenance of treatment systems. This work highlights the important role that water operators have both within their community and with external stakeholders involved in the design and management of treatment systems. It has also been identified that water operators are well placed to be educators in their community and be a trusted source of information for community members about their water. There is a need for increased support for operators from community leadership as well as more transparency and operator involvement in decision making, especially in relation to budgeting. Water operators reported serving their community as one of the main motivations in their work; however, it was also expressed that there was a lack of recognition and appreciation for their work from within their community. Increased community awareness about the importance of water operators is considered to be essential to increase operator support from their community. In turn, this support contributes to increased water operator job satisfaction and motivation, and ultimately water operator retention in communities. Community support for operators and the inclusion of operators in water related budgeting and decision-making is key to finding appropriate water treatment solutions and ensuring operators are able to provide communities with long-term access to safe drinking water.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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