Archived - Summative Evaluation of The First Nations Water Management Strategy - Follow-up Status Update as of September 30, 2009

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Action Plan Implementation Status Update Report to the Evaluation, Performance Measurement and Review Committee - As of September 30, 2009

Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships – Community Infrastructure

Summative Evaluation of The First Nations Water Management Strategy (200613)
AEC Approval Date: 19/12/2007

Project Recommendations 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.

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.
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.

As of 30/09/2009:

AES Comment: File closed
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;

b) report more clearly on the extent to which systems meet established design, construction and water-quality standards; and

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.
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.

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 Status: Implemented

As of 31/03/2009:

Complete - INAC continues to provide funding and monitor 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: Recommend to Close
01/04/2008 and 01/04/2009 Update/Rationale:
As of 31/03/2009:

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.


As of 30/09/2009:

AES Comment: Upon protocol release, recommend to close
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

Complete - INAC has been reporting annually to Parliament on the water and wastewater situation in First Nations communities.

Developed and received EPMRC approval of an Umbrella Performance Measurement Strategy for Infrastructure, which integrates critical performance indicators for water management that are to be implemented over the next two years.

AES Comment: Close file; EPMRB is monitoring implementation of PM Strategies on an ongoing basis.

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 Operation and Maintenance 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: Complete

As of 30/09/2009:

AES Comment: File Closed
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.
Status: Pending Implementation

Implementation of plans is being tracked through Asset Condition Reporting System and Integrated Capital management System.

AES Comment: Pending Implementation
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 Implemented

As of 30/09/2009:

The CRTP had 40 trainers in 2007. There are currently 54 CRTs providing operation and maintenance support to First Nations water operators. The intent is to increase the number of CRT positions to over 70 by the end of 2010.

Consistency in quality and delivery of services offered by the program is expected to improve further with the formation in March 2009 of the Circuit Rider Trainer Professional Association. The Association is committed to the development of circuit riding as a profession as well as to the development of common training materials and best practices related to water management.
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 30/09/2009:

Decentralised On-Site Systems Protocol has been approved.

The Government of Canada is undertaking a National Assessment of First Nations water and wastewater systems. Work on the assessment began May 25, 2009 and will continue to November 2010.

To date of the 607 communities that will be assessed, 197 community visits have been scheduled, of which 135 have been completed (i.e., 135 site visits have been completed and 62 more are currently scheduled).
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 30/09/2009:

Engagement session summary report and impact analysis summary report completed in April 2009.

In late summer 2009, the federal government met with First Nation provincial and territorial organizations to discuss specific regional issues regarding the proposed water legislation that have been raised in the engagement sessions held last winter, and within impact analyses and correspondence.

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