An analysis of the determinants of microbial contamination of drinking water in First Nations communities of Northern and Southern Ontario
Well publicized cases of drinking water contamination in First Nations communities in Ontario throughout the 1990s the first five years of the twentieth century have brought the issue of drinking water contamination in First Nations communities to the public’s attention. The most common form of drinking water contamination in First Nations reserves is microbial contamination. While cases of drinking water contamination have been reported in both northern and southern Ontario over the last decade and a half, it is unclear whether the nature and/or severity of drinking water contamination differs between First Nations communities in southern Ontario and more isolated communities in northern Ontario. In this document the cause(s) and the extent of microbial contamination of drinking water in two First Nations communities in southern Ontario and two First Nations communities in northern Ontario are examined and compared. The actions taken to address the drinking water contamination at all levels of government are also examined and compared between the communities in northern and southern Ontario. The results of this analysis suggest that while First Nations on southern Ontario appear to be more prone to drinking water contamination due to development and population pressure outside of the reserve, they have more access to political influence than do First Nations in northern Ontario, where drinking water contamination was the result of poorly designed or conceived drinking water systems and a lack of access to clean drinking water. The results of the analysis also reveal that there is a need for both a reform of the regulatory system for drinking water in First Nations communities and an increase in funding to increase access to clean drinking water in First Nations communities.