Water operators and the critical work of keeping water systems running

How water operators in First Nations help keep their communities safe and healthy, and resources for those interested in training and certification as a water operator.

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Video: Creator's Gift

Video: Creator's Gift

This short film by Water Movement provides a look into the lives of water operators in First Nations communities.

image showing an expanse of water at sunset with the title Creator's Gift

What water operators do in First Nations communities

Local, trained water operators are essential to long-term, sustainable access to safe drinking water in First Nations communities. Their work is vital to the health and safety of their communities.

Water operators are responsible for:

Supporting water operators

To support water operators in First Nations communities, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provides financial support for:

There are many organizations and initiatives that support water operators and those interested in becoming one, including the Circuit Rider Training Program. Find out more about the initiatives supported by ISC: Initiatives to support water operators.

Funding to operate and maintain water and wastewater infrastructure

Indigenous Services Canada provides funding to support the operation and maintenance of public water systems in First Nations communities. This funding enables First Nations to better retain qualified water operators in their communities, including through improved salaries, according to First Nations priorities.

On November 21st, 2023, the Fall Economic Statement announced $1.55 billion over 2 years, starting in 2024, to support clean drinking water for First Nations. This funding will ensure that water and wastewater infrastructure projects continue without interruption.

In 2020, Canada announced additional funding to increase support for operations and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves. This represented an increase from 80% to 100%, based on the operations and maintenance funding formula. This included $616.3 million over 6 years, starting in 2020 to 2021, and $114.1 million each year after. This doubles the funding available for operations and maintenance from 2015.

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