Drinking water on First Nations reserves an ongoing problem in B.C., says professor

In February, 26 communities were under boil water advisories — some for over 10 years

-published on March 8, 2016


The deplorable state of drinking water on many First Nations reserves in B.C. is well documented.

At the end of February 2016, 26 communities in B.C. were under boil water advisories — some of them dating back 10 years.

“The issue and the challenge is that even though that water comes from pristine sources, some of those sources are susceptible to microbial contamination,” UBC engineering professor Madjid Mohseni told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

“Those communities are often very remote … much of the funding needs to be paid by the ratepayers or the users, and when you have only tens of people living there, it’s very difficult for them to afford installing a treatment system.”

​Mohseni is a co-founder of RES’EAU-WaterNET, a program that works directly with small communities to find solutions for access to water.

His work focuses on working with communities, identifying their concerns and finding local human capacity for water treatment.

He and his students try to present various water treatment options to the communities to see which ones would work best given their human and financial capacity.

“‘One solution fits all’ does not work,” he said. “Depending on what is in the water, the type of treatment that is required would be different.”

Mohseni will be presenting on his work March 9 as part of the UBC Centennial Emerging Research Workshop on Water.

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