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Ontario Centre of Innovation
Improving Water Quality for First Nation Communities

Success Stories

Improving Water Quality for First Nation Communities

An investigation into water quality on First Nation reserve lands southwest of London is expected to lead to treatment technologies that can be applied to indigenous communities with similar water supply systems in Canada and around the globe.

The project team includes environmental and hydrologic modelling experts from Western University and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (COTTFN) and Trojan Technologies, a global leader in water treatment technologies.

Biweekly water samples are being collected from seven locations to identify potential environmental impacts of neighboring areas on drinking and surface water quality in the First Nation Community.

Samples are being analyzed for temperature, acidity, dissolved oxygen levels, electro-conductivity, loss of transparency due to dissolved solids such as minerals, salts and metals, and amount of phosphorus and nitrogen.

“COTTFN can now collect meaningful data that enables the team to develop statistical and physical models to calculate the extent to which various factors contribute to water quality,” says Dr. Mohammad Reza Najafi with Western University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “This will paint a picture for what may be potential threats to our source water.”

The phosphorus data gathered from this project has also led to a three-year partnership with Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative, concerned with land management and drainage solution for agriculture, and the piloting of two technologies in COTTFN for removing phosphorus from the source before it can enter the local waterways.

Under Collaborate 2 Commercialize, OCI introduced Trojan Technologies to the project to provide feedback on sampling and modelling results and help to develop suitable treatment technologies.

“This project complements the values of COTTFN and our commitment to protecting and being stewards of our environment. Under our holistic philosophy, this includes having water for drinking but also protecting fish and other animals in the ecosystem. Now we will have the science that we need to move forward in ensuring water quality and protecting our source water,” says Emma Young, Senior Environment Officer with COTTFN.

COTTFN has been able to create a new job position of environmental technician. Other indigenous communities with similar water supply systems in Canada and beyond will be able to apply the procedures and treatment technologies developed through this project.