Since 2019 NIYAK has led a water sample study in partnership with the Sucker Creek First Nations. Water quality issues in First Nations communities have been recognized by the Government of Canada for more than a decade. While surface water resources in this region are abundant, the community is adversely affected by poor quality drinking water and annual flooding.
In August 2019, reconnaissance sampling was conducted with local youth and the concept of a mentorship pipeline was discussed with the Chief and Council. the framework of a 3-year water quality study was established in 2020. Water samples were collected by boat September 10-11, preserved in coolers and delivered to a commercial lab for analysis within 24 hours. Since objectives of the study are to characterize the lake water at different seasonal highs and lows and to test for potential contaminants of concern related to land use activities, analysis parameters were jointly selected, including: major ions, nutrients, isotopes, metals, dioxins, furans and Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, along with field metrics (of pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, electrical conductivity and total dissolved solids) and flow velocities.
Going forward, local youth and members of the community will continue to be involved in fieldwork, analyses and interpretation of lab results, as well as decision-making in fieldsite modifications and source water protection.