Dzitl'lainli (Middle River) (Tl’azt’en First Nations)

Background: Tl’azt’en First Nation is looking to reintroduce an effective water treatment system for the Middle River community. Located over 110 km from Fort St. James, BC, Middle River currently has five to eight year-round residents, and an additional five to 10 non-permanent residents. Middle River is currently under a boil water advisory. The community has one dedicated water treatment operator. Over the course of two days during the summer of 2015, RES'EAU-WaterNET staff met with several elected counselors from Tl’azt’en First Nation, elders, the chief and several public works staff. There exists significant support from public works employees, elected officials, and band members to implement a new pilot-water treatment plant at its’ earliest opportunity.

Scope of Work:  The following tasks are proposed to determine the optimal treatment method for Middle River:

Source water quality and seasonal variation monitoring.

Last spring, we developed a water quality database to understand water quality in Middle River as seasons change. Operators collected water samples from different locations (raw water, finished water and tap water) and shipped them to Vancouver for analysis. The laboratory at UBC analyzed the samples for general water quality parameters including, pH, turbidity, dissolved organic carbon, ultraviolet transmittance and anions. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control then analyzed the water samples for E. coli and total coliforms. Team members from Laval University assessed samples for disinfection by-product formation potential. These parameters were specifically chosen to ensure that the designed water treatment system is able to treat the unique water matrix of the community. 

Community engagement: consultations and knowledge transfer activities.

RES’EAU-WaterNET will organize two community workshops and knowledge transfer sessions. Our Community Circle approach will be used to facilitate dialogue with the community about the project and future activities, and it will seek community feedback as we progress.

Technology piloting and evaluation, using RES’EAU-WaterNET mobile pilot system. 

From September, 2015 to the end of year, RES'EAU's Mobile Water Treatment Pilot Plant will be on site in Middle River. 

Running the pilot through the fall will be important for capturing how the treatment processes perform with deteriorating water conditions, as organics in the water increase. This will also allow sufficient time for running various scenarios of treatment options, ensuring that the most fitting treatment method for Middle River is optimized.

The treatment processes will involve ion exchange, ultraviolet disinfection and filters of various pore sizes. These treatment units have specifically been chosen because of their feasibility for the community. The units require no chemical dosing, which reduces daily operating and maintenance costs. The units can be easily maintained with little training.

The efficiency of each of the processes will be determined by taking samples of the raw water as well as following each treatment process. The samples will be analyzed for turbidity and pH in the field for real time feedback and to allow for necessary adjustments to be made. The samples will then return to UBC for further in-depth physiochemical analysis.

This will allow removal efficiency of each treatment process to be assessed. The treatment units will be analyzed as stand-alone options and in series with various combinations of units employed.

Once the treatment efficiency of the treatment processes is known, the economics and feasibility of the treatment options can be weighed. This will include the operations and maintenance costs as well as their complexity, and any required training to operate the treatment processes.

Evaluation of alternative source waters (i.e., shallow wells, groundwater).

Here, RES'EAU will:

  • Gather all previous reports on possible water sources and reports on environmental issues that could be effecting potential drinking water sources;
  • Summarize all reports and determine if there is an alternative water source worth pursuing further; and
  • Present results to the community and discuss to gain insight into their thoughts of our findings.

Evaluating the feasibility of decentralized options, such as point-of-entry water treatment.

RES’EAU-WaterNET will work with the community and its water operators toward the development of alternative solutions to the drinking water challenges of reserves that serve a small number of homes. One such option is the use of point-of-entry (POE) treatment systems. If there is support from the residents and the water operators, we believe POEs may offer a viable alternative to an otherwise costly central treatment system.

Detailed feasibility studies and design of a treatment system.

Once the data from the above project milestones has been gathered and consolidated, a detailed feasibility study will be completed. The advantages and disadvantages of each option will be fully investigated. For each viable option, a life cycle cost analysis will be completed. Feedback from the community engagement will be heavily weighted to ensure that the chosen option meets the community’s wishes.

Once all of the viable options have been weighed and thoroughly analyzed, the preferred option will be developed and designed. This will include detailed drawings and calculations for the chosen option. A third party consulting firm will be contracted to for the detailed drawings.

Progress/Updates: The RES'EAU Mobile Water Treatment Pilot Plant will be on site in Middle River until the end of the year, conducting technological evaluations. Check back for updates! 


An all too common occurance in small and First Nations communities in Canada.
The Mobile Water Treatment Pilot Plant arrived in Middle River in October, 2015.