Drinking Water Quality Challenges in Canada’s First Nations

Almost 1.7 million people, or 4.9% of the Canadian population, identify themselves as a member of one of Canada’s three distinct groups of Indigenous peoples and cultures—Inuit, First Nations, and Métis. Of these, the over 630 First Nation communities are the largest and comprise more than 50 distinct nations and languages. Management of drinking water quality for the First Nations is typically shared between individual communities and the Government of Canada. On reserves, Chiefs and Councils manage the day-to-day operations, including testing drinking water and issuing drinking water advisories. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provides funding for First Nation water facility design and construction, operations and maintenance, and training and certifying operators. ISC also advises and supports drinking water quality monitoring programs.

If Nothing Changes, It Will Happen Again: New Zealand’s Untreated Drinking Water

Just over a year ago, in August 2016, I wrote about how more than 5,000 of the 14,000 residents of Havelock North—a suburb of the City of Hastings on the North Island of New Zealand—became sickened after drinking untreated groundwater contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria, a common food- and waterborne disease-causing microorganism that is transmitted in the feces of

In the Wake of Hurricanes: The Problem with Standing Water

A discarded tire containing standing water can become a choice breeding ground for mosquitoes.   As flood waters recede in Houston and Florida, a new public health threat rears its ugly head: Mosquitoes breeding in standing water left in the wake of hurricanes. Puddles, flower pots and saucers, rain barrels, bird baths, pet bowls, discarded

Preparing for the Next Flood and its Aftermath

If you live in a flood-prone area, are you prepared for the next deluge? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), fast moving water that reaches just over your ankles can knock you off your feet. And don’t try to drive through it. Driving on flooded roads is the most common thunderstorm-related hazard that can kill

Out of the Jungle: Yellow Fever on the Rise

Yellow fever, a deadly scourge transmitted by mosquitoes that has impacted the course of human history time and time again, is on the rise in Latin America. The first yellow fever death in Brazil in 17 years occurred in January 2017, when a young person who worked in the jungle succumbed to the disease. A

Sticker Shock and the Nation’s Drinking Water Infrastructure Challenges

Over five years have passed since I wrote a 2-part series of articles titled “Pain at the Pipe.” Part 1 focused on why the US should respond to systemic drinking water infrastructure needs, while Part 2 addressed the consequences of failing to address those needs. Since then, drinking water infrastructure-related needs, as well as public

Update: New Zealand’s Largest Drinking Water Outbreak

In August 2016, more than one-third of the 14,000 residents of the community of Havelock North in New Zealand were sickened with gastrointestinal illness after drinking untreated groundwater contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria. It was New Zealand’s largest drinking water outbreak in recorded history. Although accounts vary, the outbreak has been linked to the deaths of

Antimicrobial Resistance: “Nothing in Our Medicine Cabinet”

A “superbug” infection contracted in a hospital in India killed a Nevada woman in September 2016 as doctors stood by, powerless to intervene with an effective antibiotic drug. The woman in her 70’s had fractured her leg in India, leading to multiple hospitalizations in that country. She returned to the US in early August 2016

A Cautionary Tale of Untreated Groundwater, Campylobacter, and New Zealand’s Largest Drinking Water Outbreak

Havelock North is a suburb of the City of Hastings on the North Island of New Zealand with 14,000 residents. By the end of August 2016, over one-third of the residents of this entire town had been sickened by drinking water contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria, the most common source of foodborne illness in New Zealand.1

Elizabethkingia anophelis Outbreak in Wisconsin: A Mystery for CDC Disease Detectives

What causes a bacterium that is ubiquitous in soil, rivers, water reservoirs and the guts of mosquitoes to suddenly cause an outbreak of human infection? The bacterium is Elizabethkingia anophelis1, and the outbreak is affecting at least 12 Wisconsin counties. The common source of the outbreak remains a mystery at this time. According to the World