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The Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA) represents progress, innovation, and a long-term solution for water and wastewater problems that affect Atlantic First Nations communities. Once operational, this pan-Atlantic Utility will provide a common standard for water & wastewater treatment along with improved management and increased resources to deal with long standing water challenges faced by Atlantic First Nations.

Among Atlantic First Nations there is a desire to establish a technically strong First Nations organization with the capability to own and operate their water and wastewater systems, and deliver capital projects over the long term. Currently, fifteen (15) communities have confirmed their ongoing commitment to the AFNWA and have signed Band Council Resolutions (BCRs) indicating their desire to formally participate. These communities are located within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and represent 61% of the total Atlantic First Nations by population.

The Chiefs, Councils, Elders, Operators and technical staff have concluded that a Full Service Decentralized (FSD) structure is most consistent with their concept of ownership and values. The analysis found within the recently developed AFNWA Business Case independently supports their conclusion that an FSD structure represents the best option for success. The FSD model comprises a central headquarters with a ‘hub & spoke’ operations structure. This arranges operations into a network of hubs that centralize expertise and operational knowledge in geographically compatible locations close to communities (spokes) and their local operators.

The FSD structure recognizes First Nations traditional territory and Atlantic Canada’s geographic challenges by optimizing service delivery with communities being no more than a 2.5-hour drive away from a service hub. The AFNWA business case provides an appropriately sized management and operational baseline to deliver the required services to communities with the flexibility to scale-up to accommodate communities who wish to join later. Seven (7) other Atlantic First Nation communities have expressed interest in participating in the AFNWA and their inclusion will be accommodated efficiently by providing additional operators to work within the established management structure.

Maintaining the status quo does not meet the success factors identified in the Business Case and perpetuates the issues of the past. Providing long term Government of Canada funding will allow the AFNWA to become an organization where First Nations own, operate, and upgrade their own water and wastewater facilities.
The business case recommends that the Government of Canada provide increased operational and capital funding to allow the AFNWA to own and operate facilities on a sustainable basis.