An Adams Lake Indian Band member has developed a new app with the goal of improving water quality data access to indigenous communities.
Trevor Andrew is passionate about water or ‘Sewllkwe’ in Secwepemc his indigenous language.
“One of the biggest issues in First Nations is manganese, which is a metal that’s in water,” Andrew told Global News.
A graduate of Thompson Rivers University’s Water and Tech for Indigenous course, Andrew has first hand knowledge of the problems indigenous communities face when it comes to clean drinking water.
“We were looking at some boil waters and do not consume (notices) at Adams Lake Band for about 17 years,” Andrew said.
It’s one of the reasons Andrew developed his ‘Sewllkwe Book’ app.
“It’s a water and waste water data collection system,” Andrew explained.
“Andrew’s ‘Sewllkwe Book’ can provide participating indigenous communities with an all-in-one digital hub for water quality data access.
The United Nations explicitly recognizes the access to clean drinking water as an essential human right.
But Human Rights Watch has called Canada’s failure to provide clean drinking water to many of our indigenous communities, a dirty secret.
“The problem is that you have a population of 1.6 million. You can’t manage that on paper,” Andrew said.
Andrew is hoping that the next B.C. government will adopt his app in order to monitor the water quality of the 198 indigenous communities across the province in order to help them focus their financial resources on bringing those communities clean water.
But in order for the app to work and provide democratic access to water quality data, Andrew needs buy in from water operators.
Because each provider needs to put their own data into the app in order for users to access it and inform themselves instantly of boil water advisories, do not consume advisories or even something a simple as a beach closure.
Andrew said that the Adams Lake Indian Band and the Okanagan Indian Band are already using the app.
Discussions are also underway with other indigenous communities in the valley to bring them on board .
But beyond First Nations, Andrew recommended ‘Sewllkwe Book’ for anyone looking to achieve better management of their water resources.
“Indigenous and non-Indigneous,” Andrew said.