Water or Waste?

Water and waste are compromising health and the environment in First Nation communities. The lack of infrastructure, programs, training and funding in Indigenous Communities impair drinking water quality and waste management. Across Canada today, there are 133 advisories in place in 89 First Nations reserves warning that the water is not safe to drink. Waste Management in Canada’s Indigenous communities was recognized as a critical issue in 1995 in the Canadian House of Commons but has not been addressed to this day (Maslowski, 1999; Thompson, 2016; Zagozewksi et al., 2011) with no sanitary landfills in First Nations. 

Wounded Spirit: Forced Evacuation of Little Saskatchewan First Nation Elders

A Modeling Strategy for Planning the Virtual Elimination of Persistent Toxic Chemicals from the Great Lakes: An Illustration of Four Contaminants in Lake Ontario

Steady-state mass balance diagram for arsenic in Lake Ontario.

There is a continuing concern among the public, government, and scientific communities in Canada and the United States about the presence of toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes and their effects on human and ecosystem health. A convincing cause-effect relationship has been demonstrated between levels of bioaccumulative toxic chemicals in the lake and reproductive problems in native species of fish-eating birds (Government of Canada, 1991, National Wildlife Federation 1994, Bowerman et al. 1993). There is concern about the impacts of these substances on human health especially among populations who consume large quantities of fish (Darvill et al. 1995). Advisories have been issued for many Lake Ontario locations, with a general recommendation to women of childbearing age and children to limit fish consumption from Lake Ontario (OMEE 1995). Advisories have been issued for many Lake Ontario locations, with a general recommendation to women of childbearing age and children to limit fish consumption from Lake Ontario (OMEE 1995).

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Building a better methane generation model: Validating models with methane recovery rates from 35 Canadian landfills

Error rates when different divisors are applied to waste in a Modified Scholl Canyon Model (DOCf = 0.50).

Atmospheric methane concentrations have increased by 30% in the last 25 years (IPCC, 2007) and multiplied by a factor of 2–3 since the 1700s due to human activities. This methane addition has increased radiative forcing by 0.47 W m 2 (IPCC, 2007, 2006). Approximately 70% of methane emissions are anthropogenic (e.g., agriculture, natural gas activities, landfills, etc) and 19% (70 Tg/ year) of these are attributed to landfill gas generation (Lay et al., 1996; Czepiel et al., 2003). Landfill gas is typically 40–60% methane (Senior, 1990), with methane having 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) over a hundred year period (IPCC, 2007). Landfills are estimated to be the largest source of anthropogenic methane. In the 1990s, landfill emissions amounted to 37% of United States’ emissions, 48% of United Kingdom’s, and 31% of the European Union’s (Hilger and Humer, 2003). However, new regulations and programs have resulted in diverting organic waste from landfills in the EU and enhanced gas recovery in the US. Technologies and management programs to reduce methane production or recover methane from landfills are relatively inexpensive compared to similar carbon dioxide equivalent (eCO2) reductions (Reilly et al., 1999). Since methane is produced only during the anaerobic decay of organic matter, and not during aerobic decay, the diversion of organic waste from landfills to composting reduces methane production (Thompson and Tanapat, 2005). Also, landfill gas can be collected to heat nearby industrial or agricultural operations or to produce electricity, which can be sold to the power grid. Landfill gas utilization provides a source of revenue, replaces fossil fuel use, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions (Thompson and Tanapat, 2005).

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Presentation: Flooding of First Nations and Environmental Justice in Manitoba

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Flooding of First Nations and Environmental Justice in Manitoba: Case Studies of the Impacts of the 2011 Flood and Hydro Development in Manitoba

Four Reserves impacted by the Fairford Control Structure and Emergency Water Channel in 2011

Indigenous communities experience a greater rate of displacement from flooding than non-Indigenous people, which contributes to these communities having worse health outcomes (Ahern et al 2005; Loney 1995; Thompson, Ballard and Martin 2014). All over the world Indigenous communities have been placed on marginal land and/or in remote locations to make room for settlers, which makes these communities vulnerable to the impacts of flooding (Waldram 1993). However, there is another story that may explain the higher risk for flooding of Indigenous communities in Manitoba: that the provincial government diverts and dams water to areas occupied by First Nations (FNs) through upstream dams and water control structures without due regard to the environmental, economic and social impacts on FNs (Ballard and Thompson 2013; Thompson, Ballard and Martin 2014).

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Flooding Hope and Livelihoods: Lake St. Martin First Nation

Lake St. Martin 2011 Forecasted Water Level
Overview – General Flooded Area and Wind Setup

Lake St. Martin First Nation (FN), a community of 2394 people (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, 2012), was permanently displaced in May, 2011 by a devastating “superflood” (Galloway, 2012). More than two years later, the community continues to be without a land base. Considered the “largest spring runoff in the province’s history” (Galloway, 2012), the geographical scope and duration of the 2011 flood also surpassed previous provincial records (Province of Manitoba, 2012). The Manitoba provincial government elevated the water levels by using a water control structure. The result was that people with a deep ancestral and spiritual connection to the land were displaced, while cottages and agricultural land used by people with only economic and recreational interests, were salvaged (Galloway, 2012). In 2011, “[the] water [at Lake St. Martin] peaked at 806 feet, almost 3 feet higher than the historic peak of 1955” (KGS Group and AECOM, 2011, p. 2; see Figure 1), which flooded the three reserves adjacent to Lake St. Martin, but hit Lake St. Martin FN the hardest.

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Flooding Hope: The Lake St. Martin First Nation Story

Lake St. Martin First Nation Community Members’ Experiences of Induced Displacement: “We’re like refugees”

Aerial view of impact of 2011 Flood on Lake St. Martin FN

Unprecedented water levels forced the entire community of Lake St. Martin First Nation (LSMFN) in Manitoba, Canada, to undergo an emergency evacuation in 2011. Flooding was so severe that the LSMFN community, a reserve for 140 years and home to Anishinaabe people, is now uninhabitable. Considered the “largest spring runoff in the province’s history,” the geographical scope and duration of this flood surpassed previous records. Provincial government officials lowered water levels in Lake Manitoba by flooding Lake St. Martin, responding to a 2011 consultant’s report that stated, “If no action is taken, extremely high water levels on Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin are expected to continue for an extended duration, leaving communities and homes damaged from flooding, wind and waves.” The provincial government’s decision saved cottages, agricultural areas, and communities on one lake by flooding three First Nation (FN) communities, including LSMFN, Pinaymootang, and Little Saskatchewan on Lake St. Martin. This diversion of water resulted in lower-than-average levels on Lake Manitoba but sustained flood levels in FN communities. In this context, this study asked the research question, what is the impact of water management and flooding on the well-being of displaced community members of LSMFN? In this paper, we describe how LSMFN community members struggle for a new, sustainable community. The sustainable livelihoods framework was used to guide data collection and analysis. This framework provided a broad examination of impacts that included an exploration of the role of institutions and policies on impacts of flooding and displacement.

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Low-Level Experimental Selenite Additions Decrease Mercury in Aquatic Food Chains and Fish Muscle but Increase Selenium in Fish Gonads

Ambient and spike THg concentrations in muscle and liver of yellow perch versus Se treatment. The ambient THg axis is on the left, and the spike THg axis is on the right. Error bars = 1 SD. The regression equation was calculated using actual concentrations of spike THg in relationship to mean Se concentrations in water. The bars were graphed at intended Se concentrations for ease of visibility.

We investigated whether low-level addition of selenium (Se) could decrease mercury (Hg) in freshwater fish without imposing Se toxicity. Using a regression design, selenite was added to large mesocosms in a lake to achieve target concentrations B1.6 lg/L. 198Hg (spike Hg) was added to mesocosms to determine changes in Hg bioaccumulation. Adding Se decreased spike total Hg (THg) in fish muscle, ambient THg in fish liver, and bio- accumulation of spike THg in muscle and spike methyl- mercury (MeHg) in zooplankton and Chironomid larvae relative to controls. Se decreased Hg in the food web but not in water, indicating that the dominant effect of Se on Hg cycling occurs in the food web. Concentrations of Se in gonads of fish were positively correlated with Se concentrations in water but did not exceed reproductive toxicity thresholds after 8 weeks. We conclude that low-level addition of Se decreases MeHg bioaccumulation and increases Se in gonads of fish; however, additions of Se to freshwater systems to decrease Hg in fish should be treated with caution because Se in fish gonads were likely to exceed toxic concentrations if exposed to increased Se for a longer period of time.

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 Wasagamack: Living Without Running Water and Sewage Service

Modeling Waste Management Options for Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Estimated landfill gas generation potential with 75% waste diversion.

Canada has the second highest methane emissions per capita from solid waste disposal on land among the numerous countries in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Parties (UNFCC, 2003). For the Kyoto protocol, Canada promised to reduce GHG emissions to 6% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. However, rather than decreasing, methane emissions from Canadian landfills increased by 24.4% between 1990 and 2001 despite an increase in landfill gas capture and combustion of almost 33% over the same period (Environment Canada, 2003). This increase surpassed the population growth of 12.2% amounting to an increase in emissions of 10% per Canadian (Environment Canada, 2003). Canada’s high methane emissions per capita from solid waste disposal on land require that new strategies to reduce methane emissions be considered.

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Policy options to reduce consumer waste to zero: comparing product stewardship and extended producer responsibility for refrigerator waste

Today, over-consumption, pollution and resource depletion threaten sustainability. Waste management policies frequently fail to reduce consumption, prevent pollution, con- serve resources and foster sustainable products. However, waste policies are changing to focus on lifecycle impacts of products from the cradle to the grave by extending the responsibilities of stakeholders to post-consumer management. Product stewardship and extended producer responsibility are two policies in use, with radically different results when compared for one consumer product, refrigerators. North America has enacted product stewardship policies that fail to require producers to take physical or financial responsibility for recycling or for environmentally sound disposal, so that releases of ozone depleting substances routinely occur, which contribute to the expanding the ozone hole. Conversely, Europe’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive requires extended producer responsibility, whereby producers collect and manage their own post-consumer waste products. WEEE has resulted in high recycling rates of greater than 85%, reduced emissions of ozone-depleting substances and other toxins, greener production methods, such as replacing greenhouse gas refrigerants with environ- mentally friendly hydrocarbons and more reuse of refrigerators in the EU in comparison with North America.

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Sinking Under the Negative Impacts of Manitoba Hydro: Hollow Water First Nation’s Submission to the Clean Environment Commission

From Environmental Ill to Environmental Health: Women Activists Taking Care of Halifax Nova Scotia

Camp Hill Medical Centre (incl. Abby Lane, Camp Hill and Veterans Memorial buildings) were the site of largest indoor air quality disaster in world

Women in the grass roots environmental health movement deserve most of the credit for transforming Halifax, Nova Scotia, from the environmental ill capital of Canada to a leader in environmental health. Halifax became infamous after hundreds of people became ill, en masse, from indoor air pollution at Camp Hill Medical Centre in Halifax. This set the stage for grassroots activists to lobby for a healthy environment, indoors and out, and for environmental health treatments for those made ill by unhealthy environments. Women’s leadership in environmental health was critical to obtaining a pesticide by-law to restrict cosmetic pesticides, scent-free policies in public buildings, a government-funded environmental health clinic, a “state of the art” $26 million healthy school, and a curb-side compost pick-up program that diverts 68% of organic material from the landfill. Rallying against a proposed  municipal incinerator in 1994, on environmental health grounds, was also a rally for a composting program.

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