Monday, August 14, 2006

Water Quality Fuss - All You Need To Do is Take Responsibility

Something near and dear to me is the topic of water quality.

The water treatment business is one area I make my living in and I do know a thing or two about the who, why, when and where of this stuff.

The recent article linked here is typical of the misrepresentation of facts related to the topic and specifically the use and abuse of resources ( money) that occurs in native communities.

Why? Well first here's an excerpt from the piece ( link to the title to see the whole):

""......HALIFAX (CP) - Canada's First Nations say they need more resources to better protect their drinking water.

Representatives from First Nations communities in Atlantic Canada addressed an independent panel studying drinking water today in Halifax.

Michael Cox of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia says regulatory standards should be set for drinking water on reserves. ""

First, of all funding is and always has been available for infrastructure like water treatment plants.
Second, drinking water standards in Canada are well established and it is up to specific jurisdictions like municipalities or the first nations communities to see that they are implemented and enforced. All anyone has to do is refer to the Health Canada drinkng water quality standards and to any provincial or territorial Water Stewardship, department of health or Conservation office for detailed information. Provincial and regional water boards also have detailed progams and information.

Third, training programs are available in every province for managers and operators which include testing and certification for all levels.

Fourth, in every case that I am aware of, whether in a native community or elswhere...all failures of systems have been the direct result of neglect and mismanagement.
Thats right "Every Last One" that has become a problem has been caused by the people responsible for the management and maintenance of the systems.

In some cases the negligence has been egregious and even criminal. Walkerton for example.
In some cases it has developed through lack of attention and circumstance. North Battleford for example.

In any case this call by native groups to have special attention paid to their problems is just another example of the culture of victimhood that is so often exploited to coerce more money out of various levels of government and of course that means taxpayers. Lets see if the bureaucrats and politicians or rather how quickly the bureacrats and politicians will react to this with pledges of yet more taxpayers earnings to assuage the bleats of people who simply refuse to take responsibilty for the things that they are responsible for.

There is NOTHING special or unique about water on reserves. And there is no need whatsoever for any special regulation or funding. The same standards for quality apply to All Canadians and the technolgy and resources to implement the technology is already there.

By pushing this hot button topic and implying that the source of problems lies in some issue of funding or in a lack of clear regulation these so called leaders are simply playing that same old game that has led to so much waste and failure in the first place. Throwing money at these issues and playing games with public opinion ( uninformed and misinformed ) and resources.

The first nations communities in question are already responsible for the infrastructure in question. Any problems or successes with that infrastructure are the result their own management

So please stop the BS right here and now because no amount of bureaucratic meddling or special programs is going to change a damned thing.



Blogger Mac said...

I think part of the problem is the aboriginal communities strive to control the construction and maintenance of the water treatment plants, the same as they strive to control anything else which happens on their lands. Normally, that wouldn't be a bad thing but unfortunately, they lack the educated and experienced personnel to make appropriate decisions on little things like location, water source and interaction with sanitary sewage system. The results are self-evident.

You don't know fun until you haven't boiled the water as long as required.

8/14/2006 9:49 p.m.  
Blogger Albertan Technophile said...

OMMAG, may I ask a favor?
Since you know about water treatment, perhaps you would know what it is in my water thats causing thick dark orange scale on all of my taps and inside my dishwasher. This crap is tough! Cleaners my wife have tried wont even touch it!

Thanks for your time.

8/16/2006 10:18 p.m.  
Blogger PGP said...

Mac - sometimes it's the government engineers and consultants who insist on building inappropriate and high cost systems that have high maintenance requirements and costs.

In either case the No.1 cause of failure is negligence. Although there was a case in MB where the plant was placed "Downstream!" from the sewage lagoon outlet. However that was really put into failure because the lagoon was overloaded and not maintained.

Cybermiester - I'll email you.

8/17/2006 11:09 a.m.  
Blogger Mac said...

I've been on some of the reserves here on the west coast where "boil water" is the norm, not the exception. There is no lack of water but it needs to be treated. We're not asking for engineers to cure cancer; it's just making water clean. Why is this so hard?

8/18/2006 12:59 p.m.  
Blogger PGP said...

It's not hard to do.....
The politics of who's in charge and who is responsible cause endless quibbling that gets in the way of fixing things.
On the other hand when you have a perfectly good water treatment plant in place and you let it fall appart.....

8/18/2006 5:50 p.m.  
Blogger Mac said...

Yup... If the government maintains the water plant, they're patronizing natives and treating them like children. If the government doesn't maintain the water plant and the natives don't bother, it's all the government's fault for neglecting them.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could tie government funding of the reservations to performance? If the natives don't maintain the plant, the costs of repairs comes out of their next year's budget.

8/19/2006 12:58 a.m.  
Blogger PGP said...

Mac - I believe that is the intention of the blanket funding programs that create budgets to be used at the descretion of the band councils etc.

Funny how they money is always gone and things are usually not looked after.

But to be fair...many ordinary civil municipalities have the same problems.


8/21/2006 3:04 p.m.  
Blogger Mac said...

True enough. Walkerton, for example.

8/22/2006 1:06 a.m.  

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