ACCESSIBILITY, QUALITY AND SAFETY OF LIARD FIRST NATION’S DRINKING WATER SUPPLY
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Safe drinking water is a pressing health issue for First Nations reserves in Canada. The number of water-borne infections in First Nations communities is 26 times higher than the rest of the Canadian population. Approximately 30% of First Nation community water treatment plants are in a high-risk category, meaning their systems have deficiencies that pose a risk to the water quality. The use of private wells, truck-to-cistern delivery of water, and smaller distribution systems are not included in these statistics. The federal government has provided assessments, training programs and funding to help First Nations communities make their drinking water safe but their impacts have been limited to date. The Liard First Nation (LFN) is located near Watson Lake, a town in the Liard River Ecoregion of the Yukon Territory, Canada. It is located within the Mackenzie River drainage basin and a white-spruce subarctic boreal forest. There are two local governments—the town of Watson Lake and the LFN. The LFN is part of the Kaska Nation which governs the villages of Upper Liard, Albert Creek, 2 Mile, 2.5 Mile and Windid Lake. The citizens of LFN have a number of concerns about the quality of water in their community. These include the contamination of their water sources through garbage dumping, mining and fracking, industrial activity, human waste, and flooding. LFN citizens rely on groundwater sources for their drinking water; these sources include private wells or truck-haul to cisterns with water from the LFN water treatment facility.
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