Investigating Drinking Water Advisories in First Nations Communities through Data Mining

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Thompson, Emma
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University of Guelph

Maintaining acceptable drinking water quality is a challenge in Canadian First Nations communities, and many residents experience frequent drinking water advisories (DWAs). In this research, detailed information about drinking water systems on reserves was combined with historical advisory data to investigate the relationships between system attributes and DWAs using data mining. Decision trees were developed to identify key factors linked to the occurrence, frequency, duration and causes of advisories. The results showed that trends varied considerably by province, despite being federally managed. Operator treatment certification was found to be associated with the duration of advisories, where systems with fully trained operators were less likely to have long-lasting DWAs. The findings from data mining can be useful for informing future regulatory and funding decisions. This study also emphasized the need for maintaining an up-to-date record of First Nations system information to close existing data gaps.

drinking water advisory, data mining, decision tree, First Nations, Canada