The Water Quality app instantly reports the quality of any water being tested – whether it’s tap water, a reservoir, a lake, stream, well water, or aquifer.
“When Walkerton hit, I couldn’t believe people in Canada could die from drinking water coming out of a tap. One was a 7-year-old girl. My own daughter was 4 at the time. It hit me hard. I vowed then to do something about it, so that no one would have to die from drinking water.” Trever Andrew, recognized for excellence in the Water and Wastewater Technology Industry with the Victor M. Terry Operator Award.
In British Columbia’s Interior Health Region there are 1,920 different water systems. At any given time 500 of them are under a Boil Water or Do Not Consume Advisory – some date back for years, even decades. The problems have persisted and are particularly acute on First Nations lands.
All this has the potential to change with: One man. One vision. An innovative solution. Thirteen years of intensive research and a 2-year test pilot.
It has all come together for Trever Andrew, member of the Secwepemc (Schuswap) Nation in Adams Lake, British Columbia.
For thousands of years, the people of the Secwepemc Nation called water “Sewllkwe” (pronounced SELL-kwuh). Andrew has created an app called Sewllkwe Book, a digital record of a community’s water that replaces outdated manual systems to record and analyze water. The cloud-based innovative technology ensures a permanent record of drinking water quality and wastewater while providing swift action steps for remediation. All this is do-able on a cell phone or tablet.
“I knew nothing about creating an app thirteen years ago,” Andrew, a graduate of Thompson River University, told us. “I just kept researching and working at it. I am an innovator. But then the real learning curve came with educating myself on the business aspect.”
Working with Thompson Okanagan based software developers, he created, tested and installed a cellular phone-based water management program and app which gives residents and water managers real time information on water quality and usage. It also analyses and reports instantly on trends in water quality data helping to identify water quality issues as they are developing while suggesting solutions.
The app instantly reports the quality of any water being tested – whether it’s tap water, a reservoir, a lake, stream, well water, or aquifer.
“I developed the app, then I became a water operator,” Andrew said, after his research took him across Canada where to his dismay he saw many First Nations communities without access to clean drinking water.
Addressing the ‘elephant in the room’, Andrew admits, “I was overwhelmed with the fact that water quality is a political issue,” regarding the obstacles he has encountered in his communications with governments.
“I am not saying this is a cultural issue. It is a water issue. I have lived and worked in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures and am comfortable in both. Water is color-blind. I love all people on this planet and they have a right to clean water.”
“Governments have a long way to go to identify who has this right. I am just trying to show that the current technology is outdated. It needs to be transparent to the world. What we put into our bodies is serious.”
As soon as a worker takes a water sample and enters it into the Sewllkwe Book app, Sewllkwe Book analyzes the data and generates instant reports or alerts. Real-Time trend reports alert operators to identify issues before they become an expensive problem or a risk to health.
“When you give a community their own water data it’s theirs now. That’s sovereignty! It’s something they’ve never had before.” Andrew’s Sewllkwe Book has done just that for his own Adams Lake community of 300 people.
“I grew up off the reserve. When I came home and saw the water quality, it shocked me. It was heart-breaking.”
The Adams Lake community had been on Do Not Consume and Boil Water Advisories for years.
“A lot of people thought we needed $20 million to fix it with a new water plant. My program gave them the data they needed. When your Chief and Council get to see the data, it opens their eyes to new ideas.
“All they needed to do was extend the water line at a cost of $2.7 million – monies the community raised without government assistance. Investing in their own water program to get them the results they needed – that gave them ownership and authority.” Adams Lake has now been Advisory Free for almost two years.
“We should all be experts in water!” Andrew says. “Not just a handful of people in charge. I want to educate people on what it means to have good/bad water.”
The possibilities and reach are endless.
“Our whole life is wrapped around water. We’ve educated the public that it is an everlasting resource but we are leaving a mess for the next generation.
“As a young child I knew I wanted to change the world. I did not know then it would be through water. The mess we have created could be killing a future Prime Minster of Canada, or a science researcher that might have found cures for deadly pandemics, or a reporter that could tell that one story that makes a difference. If I can help save those lives I will.”
Thank you again Suzanne for sharing your article and your passion with us!