Archived - Summative Evaluation of the First Nations Water Management Strategy - Follow-up Report Status Update as of March 31, 2009

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Action Plan Implementation Status Update
Report to the Evaluation, Performance Measurement and Review Committee - As of March 31, 2009

Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships – Community Infrastructure

Summative Evaluation of the First Nations Water Management Strategy (200613)
Action Plan Approval Date: 19/12/2007

Project Recommentations Action Plan Expected Completion Date Program Response
1. The Department should continue to provide assistance to First Nations for the building, operation, and maintenance of their water and wastewater systems as well as for the training of system operators. The Department should commit to address, in the short term, the remaining major risk issues with water systems. Minister Prentice committed to reducing the number of high-risk drinking water systems to 49 by March 31, 2008 in March 2007. 01/04/2008 Status: Implemented

As of 31/03/2009:

Complete. Additional assistance to support First Nations in addressing risk issues with water systems was implemented through the $330 million First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan (FNWWAP) in April 2008. Further assistance of $165 million for priority water projects was provided through Canada's Economic Action plan.
The funding for the First Nations Water Management Strategy and the Plan of Action for Drinking Water in First Nations Communities expires March 31, 2008. INAC has renewed targeted water and wastewater support activities for two additional years. Once an engineering assessment of water and wastewater systems and needs in First Nations communities provides accurate information on the issues that remain, INAC will prepare a strategy to begin April, 2010, to support First Nations communities in bringing remaining systems to the standards outlined in the Protocol for Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities.

During the next two years, work with First Nations to address issues will continue, with health and safety risks being addressed on a priority basis.
2. Monitoring and reporting practices should be enhanced to ensure that the First Nations and INAC have reliable information about drinking-water and wastewater systems in First Nations communities. In particular, INAC should:

a) ensure that all funded systems undergo complete annual on-site inspections according to the "Guide for Annual Inspections of First Nations Drinking Water Systems" in the Protocol for Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities;
a) The Protocol for Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities requires annual inspections of water systems by a qualified person from outside the operating First Nations. INAC will continue to provide funding for these annual inspections and ensure that they are completed. INAC will improve the inspection process, automating the data collection by creating an inspection form that can be automatically uploaded into the Integrated Capital Management System (ICMS) database. ICMS is web-accessible, which will make it easier for inspectors to upload the information directly into a central INAC database and for First Nations to access the resulting information. Additionally, by centralizing all the data, it will be easier for headquarters to monitor compliance and ensure that the inspection requirements have been met by the regional offices. 01/04/2008 Status: Implemented

As of 31/03/2009:

a) Complete - INAC continues to provide funding and monitor for completion of annual inspections as required by the Protocol for Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities.

Complete - The Integrated Capital Management System (ICMS) is fully functional with respect to tracking water and wastewater system inspections.

AES COMMENT: Need to demonstrate that this protocol has improved/enhanced Monitoring and reporting practices.
b) report more clearly on the extent to which systems meet established design, construction and water-quality standards; and b) With the introduction in 2006 of the Protocol, INAC introduced clear, measurable standards for design, construction, operation, maintenance, and monitoring of drinking water systems. INAC is developing a wastewater systems protocol. This is being reviewed with stakeholders and INAC plans to introduce the new wastewater protocol April 1, 2008. It would be added to funding agreement requirements beginning in fiscal year 2009/10. A key performance indicator on compliance with the drinking water/wastewater protocol will be added to ICMS to ensure that compliance is measured and tracked. INAC will report annually to Parliament on the water and wastewater situation in First Nations communities and will include reporting on compliance with the standards of the Protocol. 01/04/2008 and 01/04/2009 b) The INAC Drinking Water Protocol for First Nations Communities refers to design and construction guidelines. Asset Condition Inspections, which occur every 3 years, report on the physical condition of the water plant. In addition, annual performance inspections are also required with respect to the quality of the water and the performance of the operator. All of these inspections results are stored within the Integrated Capital Management System (ICMS). INAC has recently changed its Key Performance Indicators on water to also indicate how many systems are now meeting the Drinking Water Protocols.

AES COMMENT: Ongoing – Annual reports submitted.
c) collect data that support basic cost-effectiveness measurement, e.g., cost per connection and cost per person served for capital expenditures and for operations and maintenance c) INAC will ensure that feasibility studies for new systems, reviewed by HQ, assess the cost per connection and determine the most suitable cost-effective option, including consideration of individual systems. Through the new Integrated Capital Management System (ICMS) water database, INAC will track the costs of system construction, upgrade, operations and maintenance funding provided, number of connections and people served by the system. In the context of the department's Smart Reporting Initiative, INAC intends to work with First Nations communities to improve broadband connectivity to enable reporting through ICMS to reduce the reporting burden. 31/03/2009 c) Complete. INAC has been reporting annually to Parliament on the water and wastewater situation in First Nations communities.

AES COMMENT: Cost per connection not captured in ICMS.
3. INAC should

a) revise its funding agreements with First Nations to ensure that funds awarded for operation and maintenance are used for that purpose; and
a) INAC will explore options to ensure that funding agreements with First Nations allow for an assessment of water and wastewater O&M funding in the year-end financial audit. Measures to assist First Nations communities in addressing any deficiencies in compliance will be developed in collaboration with Audit and Assurance Services Branch. Options for improved Operation and Maintenance tracking and accountability will be explored and implementation of initial measures will begin April 1, 2008 Status: Pending Implementation

As of 31/03/2009:

a) Community Infrastructure Branch is working with CFO Sector to understand how the Transfer Payment Policy affects funding authorities and First Nation funding agreements that currently provide flexibility in funding minor capital and operations & maintenance expenditures in order to consideration to providing future funding on a more 'targeted' basis.
b) Take measures to ensure that the Maintenance Management Plans and Emergency Response Plans required under the Protocol are in place. b) The Protocol for Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities requires Maintenance Management Plans and Emergency Response Plans be implemented. Compliance with the Protocol is part of INAC's funding agreements with First Nations communities. As part of INAC's commitment to measure compliance with the Protocol, implementation of these plans will be tracked and measures will be taken to address any shortfalls. Compliance measures will be developed for implementation as of 01/04/2010. Steps to ensure compliance with the Protocol will continue on an ongoing basis. b) Complete. Implementation of plans is being tracked through Asset Condition Reporting System and Integration Capital Management System.
4. INAC must significantly improve operator training and certification by substantially upgrading the Circuit Rider Training Program or by implementing a superior alternative INAC will expand the Circuit Rider Training Program to allow all regions to hire more (CRTP) circuit riders, to improve remuneration and working conditions for circuit riders, to expand the role of circuit riders in mentoring and assisting system operators, and to offer these expanded CRTP services to all First Nations communities, to take effect April 1, 2008. Additional funding would also be directed to training operators for certification exams. Implementation will begin 01/04/2008 Status: Pending Implementation

As of 31/03/2009:

The CRTP had 40 trainers in 2007. There are currently 54 CRTs providing operation and maintenance support to First Nations water operators. Since January 2008, 14 additional CRTs have been hired and the intent is to double the original 40 positions by the end of 2010.
5. The Department must address gaps in program design with a view to providing support for alternative cost-effective solutions such as wells and septic tanks. A detailed engineering assessment of the water and wastewater systems in every First Nations community, to be conducted over an 18 month period, will identify the needs of each community and provide a reliable basis for decisions on future investments. Policy on small systems and protocol developed 30/09/2008 Status: Pending Implementation

As of 31/03/2009:

Procurement of contractor for the National Assessment is nearing completion, and work is expected to begin in the Spring of 2009. The assessment project will be completed in Fall 2010.

Decentralised On-Site Systems Protocol has been drafted and is being reviewed; implementation is planned for Summer 2009.
A Protocol to establish standards for wells, septic systems, cisterns and other small system elements is being prepared. The preliminary protocol will be implemented beginning April 1, 2008 and will be finalised by September 30, 2008. Engineering assessment complete by 30/09/2009
INAC will work with Health Canada and other federal partners and with First Nations communities to implement the policy on funding the most cost-effective systems appropriate to community needs and to implement the new protocol on small systems. Implementation of the policy for small systems will be phased in beginning 01/04/2008
6. Future policy development should consider the implementation of a regulatory framework that would separate INAC's roles as funding agency and de facto regulator. The option of having a separate federal department/agency or the provinces/territories or other entity (such as a First Nations organization/institution or aggregation), other than INAC, to enforce regulations for water and wastewater on-reserve should be explored. INAC will develop a proposal for a regulatory framework in accordance with the Government of Canada's commitment in Budget 2007 to introduce an accountable, transparent and enforceable regulatory regime, for safe drinking water on reserve, comparable to off-reserve communities. Consultations on legislation will take place in 2008. Status: Pending Implementation

As of 31/03/2009:

Engagement sessions with First Nations across Canada completed. Impact analyses by Regional First Nation Organizations in progress. Report to the Minister is scheduled for April 2009.

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