In the province of Ontario, waterborne illness is an inherent risk associated with the management of water resources and is augmented by the lack of satisfactory treatment and testing procedures (Government of Ontario, 2013). The threat of waterborne illness becomes especially apparent in First Nations communities as they are a system commonly independent of the government serving a small population and therefore operate within strict budgetary and resource constraints (Harvey et al. 2015). Research on illness caused by contaminated drinking water in First Nations communities is limited and opportunistic, however research that has been conducted generally agrees that First Nations communities experience health status below that of the general population, specifically gastrointestinal illness as a result of high-risk drinking water systems (Bradford et al. 2016).
Government relationships with First Nations communities have been historically poor, causing projects such as management of water resources to suffer (Harvey et al. 2015). Projects that emphasize co-management of natural resources between government and First Nations communities work twofold, providing resource security and sustainability while also working to evolve fundamental rights and relationships between the two parties (Notzke, 1995).
Many residents within First Nations communities, as well as other rural inhabitants, rely on wells that source groundwater for their water supply. Groundwater reserves depend on the infiltration/percolation of water from the surface and are susceptible to the migration of contaminants from the surface through the groundwater system (Eccles et al. 2017). Providing water to a community from a single source via water mains, as opposed to individually, helps lessen the cost of treatment while improving water quality as it provides a larger pool of funding to be put towards such efforts (Zhao et al. 2014). If an area is restricted from being connected to a water main under circumstances such as a limited budget, inaccessibility due to environmental restrictions, or isolation from water networks, an on-site cistern and a truck to transport water to the site have been considered an effective alternative (Baird et al. 2013).
Recent technologies such as two-dimensional surface/subsurface flow modeling have advanced the ability to create ideal water transport infrastructure (Boulos, 2017). These models allow for the input of spatially distributed variables in order to map their potential impact on installing infrastructure in a certain area. Many models also allow for the creation of a network given a specified budgetary scenario, a tool that becomes extremely important when applying these models to the real world, a practice which virtually always has a budget governing the design of the project (Boulos, 2017). After installation, this infrastructure becomes vulnerable to structural deterioration; therefore, measures must be taken to ensure it works effectively for the longest amount of time possible, and that it can also be easily located and excavated in case of a need for repair (Yehuda et al. 2010). GIS models allow for the calculation and integration of multiple parameters, as well as the ability to spatially represent data layers. For an issue such as this, where a single source of water much be efficiently distributed to many individual places, it is critical for a transportation network such as this to be modelled using a GIS.
This project designs and utilizes a GIS-based transportation model to develop a multi-modal network that will effectively connect residents of the Six Nations community to their water treatment facility under various budgetary scenarios.