Frequently Asked Questions
About Water First
Why was Water First Education & Training created?
Originally called Tin Roof Global, the organization was created in 2009 to bring drinking water to rural schools in Uganda. We trained local volunteers on how to operate and maintain the water and sanitation systems we installed.
Water First began working with First Nations in Canada in 2012, after being challenged on many occasions about why we weren’t working with communities here at home experiencing water challenges.
Our projects with Indigenous communities were small at first, but within a few years accounted for 90% of program resources. In 2016, Tin Roof Global changed its name to Water First Education & Training and changed its mandate to work solely with Indigenous communities in Canada.
Water First focusses on both drinking water and environmental water concerns, as well as water science education for Indigenous youth.
How is your organization funded?
Water First is a non-profit organization and is funded through a combination of government grants and private donors. Our charitable registration number is 83852 5269 RR0001.
How can Canadians help with the water crisis?
Canadians can help first and foremost by learning about the water crisis. We need your help to raise awareness of the issue and become an advocate for change.
Research and establish connections with affected communities to learn the real story — the history of the issue, the severity, and what they believe would resolve their problems.
Last but not least, please support organizations like Water First by donating, fundraising or volunteering.
About Water Quality
What tests are performed to determine if the water is safe to consume?
Tests can be used to determine water quality indicators such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) & total coliforms, chlorine levels, turbidity (how murky the water is), and the presence of iron & manganese.
Additional tests can determine the levels of organic materials, inorganic chemicals, radionuclide content, and other contaminants.
How can pollutants successfully be removed from our waterways?
It is usually hard to remove pollutants once the water is contaminated. The most common methods of removing pollution (organic material, bacteria, etc.) from drinking water are through sedimentation and filtration.
Pollutants that float on the water surface, like oil spills, can be removed using booms and skimmers. Booms are floating barriers placed around the oil or the source of the leak so that skimmers (vacuum machines, sponges, oil-absorbent ropes, etc.) can remove the contaminant from the water.
Contaminants that have settled to the bottom of the water can be removed by dredging. In this process, the contaminated sediment is removed and treated offsite.
What causes a drinking water advisory to be issued?
Drinking water advisories are generally precautionary, meaning they are issued before drinking water quality problems occur. The advisories can take three forms:
- Boil water advisory (BWA)
- Do not consume (DNC)
- Do not use (DNU)
Boil water advisories are by far the most common. They inform the community that the water must be boiled before using to protect against potential disease-causing bacteria, viruses or parasites.
The high heat of boiling kills many harmful organisms living within the water. But in some communities boiling water is not enough. Other contaminants such as mercury, pesticides, herbicides or cyanide can make the water very unsafe to drink or bathe in. These inorganic (non-living) contaminants can enter our water through agricultural, industrial, or other polluting practices. These communities are experiencing a DNC advisory or a DNU advisory.
- 4% of the boil water advisories issued were because of E. coli bacteria.
- 13% were due to other microbiological water quality parameters.
- 83% were due to equipment and process problems.
Between 2010 and 2017, the number of boil water advisories issued due to problems with equipment or processes increased.