Frequently Asked Questions

Post Transfer Roles and Responsibilities:

Operations and Maintenance of existing water and wastewater assets.

AFNWA’s Role:

The AFNWA will hire and train community operators and will be responsible for the management of day-to-day operations.

Indigenous Service Canada’s (ISC) Role:

ISC will provide advice and corporate knowledge to the AFNWA for each system, as requested.

Capital projects: Investment in new and upgrades to existing water and wastewater assets in participating communities.

AFNWA’ Role:

The AFNWA utilized a structured approach during the development of its Asset Management Plans for each prospective community in order to determine the associated Capital Budgets for a 10-year period.

New capital projects will be initiated in accordance with the AFNWA’s procurement policy and governance manual.

The AFNWA Board will make decisions regarding investment in new water and wastewater assets based on its internal policies and technical advice from the AFNWA Staff. The AFNWA Staff will use their Asset Management Framework to prioritize projects based on risk.

ISC’s Role:

ISC will provide annual funding to the AFNWA through the 10-Year Funding Agreement.

ISC provided extensive information to support the AFNWA’s development of capital plans and reviewed the AFNWA’s final plans to ensure consistency and accuracy. 

ISC regional office engineers will be available, as requested, for technical and historical knowledge transfer to the AFNWA’s project team.

Public Health Oversight

AFNWA’s Role:

The AFNWA has developed a robust framework for ensuring water quality oversight, including testing, biennial inspections and water quality and effluent monitoring to ensure they meet, at minimum, the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations respectively.

ISC’s Role:

Environmental Public Health Officers will continue to operate in their current role and ISC will work collaboratively with the AFNWA regarding any public health concerns related to drinking water, including providing recommendations to initiate/rescind drinking water advisories.

Community Growth Projects (ex. water and wastewater servicing for new housing/subdivisions)

AFNWA’s Role:

The AFNWA will coordinate with member First Nations and appropriate partners (e.g., ISC) and develop master plans for water and wastewater infrastructure to facilitate community growth.

ISC’s Role:

ISC will continue to support communities in the feasibility, design, and delivery of eligible projects for community growth. ISC is providing funding to the AFNWA to support existing water and wastewater infrastructure in participating communities.

Allocation of Community Operations and Maintenance Funding.

AFNWA’s Role:

The water and wastewater portions of participating communities’ Operations and Maintenance (O&M) budgets will be re-directed to the AFNWA.

Community water and wastewater O&M funding will be directed to the AFNWA once Chief and Council request community O&M funding be transferred to the AFNWA in writing.Information on the process to redirect O&M funding for water and wastewater to the AFNWA will be communicated by the AFNWA separately to each participating First Nation. Chief and Councils have already been informed of changes to their annual O&M budgets through the Band Council Resolution package submission process (see further detail on membership process below). Water and wastewater capital projects will be funded through the validated Capital Plans for each community.

ISC’s Role:

ISC will receive letters from Chief and Council, requesting community water and wastewater Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding be transferred to the AFNWA. ISC will confirm that the request has been received and that the funds have been successfully redirected.

The AFNWA and ISC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the First Nations Financial Management Board (FNFMB) to support economic oversight of the AFNWA business activities. Annual O&M funding for the AFNWA may be reviewed by the FNFMB as part of their potential role in the economic oversight of the AFNWA. When finalized, ISC will release funds to the AFNWA in consideration of the FNFMB’s recommendations.

All other participating communities’ O&M funding, outside of water and wastewater, will continue to be provided by ISC, through existing programs.

Point of contact for water or wastewater issues

AFNWA’s Role:

The AFNWA will be the primary point of contact for all water or wastewater systems, including questions concerns, funding, or operations. The AFNWA will ensure that water and wastewater assets are in a good state of condition, in accordance with its Business Plan.

The AFNWA will coordinate with appropriate partners as required.

Community members with questions or concerns may contact 902-603-0312, or email the AFNWA Communications team at

ISC’s Role:

If requested, ISC will provide the appropriate AFNWA contact to address questions related to water and wastewater in participating communities.

ISC will continue to provide support on all other community infrastructure and remains the first point of contact for those projects.

Should there be a severe weather event/natural disaster, ISC provides resources and support, as needed, through the Emergency Management Assistance Program.

Will land(s) from participating communities be transferred to AFNWA when they become members?

It is important to state that under no circumstances will a transfer of land from a participating First Nation, to AFNWA, be considered now or in the future. What is being considered for participating communities, that have regulations for their lands under the Indian Act, is a two-phased process intended to provide AFNWA with the necessary access to operate and control water and wastewater assets.

Phase One:  All water treatment and distribution assets and all wastewater treatment and collection assets would be pursuant to Subsection 28(2) of the Indian Act, and with the required approval from the participating First Nation, General Access Permits would be issued to AFNWA to provide its personnel with access to the community’s water and wastewater assets for operation, maintenance, and capital upgrade purposes.

Phase Two: (Over time): Some assets may be considered by AFNWA as being of greater importance to the efficient delivery of water and wastewater services, such as the water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants. It may be proposed that land upon which these particular asset(s) are located move through a process that would allow:

  1. under Subsection 38 (2) a change from being Common Band land to Designated Lands.
  2. under Subsection 53 (1)(b) the Designated land being Leased to AFNWA.

This would provide a greater degree of control and certainty for AFNWA over these particular classes of assets. It is very important to again note that in both Phases, the land upon which the asset(s) are situated will continue to be part of the member community’s land. There is no transfer of land from member communities to AFNWA.

A Designation process to accomplish a leasing of Band lands to any entity, including AFNWA, always requires a referendum and a vote in favour of such a change by community band members.

There is no transfer of land(s) from member communities to AFNWA.

Completion of on-going community capital projects

AFNWA’s Role:

The AFNWA team members have been briefed on the status of communities’ on-going capital projects and have been added to the water and wastewater project teams.

A ’Master Project List‘ for participating communities is being developed for all existing ISC-funded capital projects for water and wastewater during the transition period. The Implementation Committee has been appointed to facilitate the successful implementation of the Transfer Agreement by providing direct support, strategic direction and senior leadership. The Principals of the Implementation Committee are the Chief Executive Officer of the AFNWA and the Director General of the Community Infrastructure Branch at ISC. Both the AFNWA and ISC can appoint representatives to the Implementation Committee. The continuity of projects will be handled by the Implementation Committee. The Terms of Reference for the Implementation Committee can be found in Schedule D of the Service Delivery Transfer Agreement (SDTA).

ISC’s Role:

ISC regional office engineers and capital officers will continue to support on-going water and wastewater capital projects, where ISC has provided funding directly to communities, until the completion of the project phase.