The accessibility, quality, and safety of the Liard First Nation’s drinking water supply

Safe drinking water has a major influence on people’s health. Many government programs and funding have gone to help First Nations communities make drinking water safe, but those efforts have not always had success. Nationally, First Nations groups in Canada still experience more health problems related to water than other non-First Nations groups. This project collected information on the LFN people’s access to drinking water, as well as drinking water safety and sustainability in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Project Overview

Although the Liard First Nation has a well-established, large public drinking water system with regulatory oversight, routine water sampling, and certified operators for the operation of their drinking water treatment plant and water truck delivery, this project was seen as important in terms of its contributions to the baseline of information available on the community water supply.

Using a community-based research method, researchers on this project worked in collaboration with the LFN to:
1) Test 40 private drinking water wells that are not regularly monitored;
2) Understand surface and ground water connectivity; and
3) Use a household survey to ask LFN residents about their values, concerns, and practices related to drinking water.

Study findings may be used to help community leaders make decisions about drinking water supply, management and policy. 

Project Team

Lisa Christensen, principal investigator, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College

Dr. Lalita Bharadwaj, co-investigator, College of Nursing, School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan

Sarah Newton, co-investigator

Josie O'Brien, research assistant, Yukon Research Centre, Yukon College


Liard First Nation

University of Saskatchewan


Yukon Research Centre

University of Saskatchewan

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.