As someone who grew up next to Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes, I never considered water availability an issue. Not for me, at least. In my blissfully ignorant, selfish youth, I thought the only places affected by the water crisis were historically dry places like Ethiopia, Sudan, and Eritrea. Until Flint, Michigan's water crisis less than 400km away. This led to my discovery that 73% of First Nations' water systems are at high or medium risk of contamination in Canada. Below is a picture of a bath in Neskantaga First Nations Reserve in 2021 (source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/30/canada-first-nations-justin-trudeau-drinking-water).
The Canadian government has promised to invest money to fix this issue but is investing the only solution?
We can't just give someone a stack of plastic water bottles, pat ourselves on the back and think yep, that solves it. We need a plan that incorporates:
Breaking down the old barriers that caused this in the first place
Sustainable, long-lasting changes
Regulations on water quality in reserves (which do not exist pretty much at all right now), consistent and adequate funding, supporting household wastewater treatments, including more efficient rainwater collection, and actually asking what these communities want and need instead of deciding for them are just a few places we can start. Let's incorporate more sustainable water use methods so water access will never be a problem for these communities or the environment ever again.
Water is a fundamental right. Not only is access to water an environmental issue, but it's a human rights issue.