Protect our water: New regulations proposed for wastewater
Canada is home to some of the most incredible water resources, including 891,163 square kilometres of fresh water!
Photo: Jim Moyes © Environment Canada, 2003
Lakes and rivers and streams: Canada has some of the most incredible and diverse water resources in the world. From estuaries teeming with life to the impressive ocean coastlines, Canada is a nation that relies on and enjoys the social, economic and environmental benefits of water. Amazingly, almost 9%--or 891, 163 square kilometers--of Canada's total area is covered by fresh water.
With these great water resources also comes the responsibility to manage and protect them for the environment, health and wellbeing of all Canadians. This is why Environment Canada (EC) is working with municipalities and local governments is developing regulations for wastewater effluent.
Agreeing for the future
The proposed regulations will stop the direct dumping of untreated wastewater into Canada’s rivers and oceans.
Photo: Jim Moyes © Environment Canada, 2002
Currently, over 150 billion litres of untreated sewage are deposited into waterways every year. This practice poses a serious threat to human health, the health of surrounding ecosystems, and the quality of life in all communities.
Last year, when the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) met, the majority agreed on the Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent to phase out the dumping of untreated sewage in our waterways.
This year, EC is doing its part to implement the strategy by developing regulations for wastewater. The proposed Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations were published in Canada Gazette Part I in March of 2010, giving the Canadians the opportunity to tell the government what they think. Environment Canada is revising the proposed regulations based on the comments that have been received.
Regulations that won’t go to waste
Wastewater treatment plants would have to meet minimum treatment standards under the proposed regulations
Photo: Adrain Steenkamer © Environment Canada, 2002
These proposed regulations include standards for national wastewater effluent quality and provide clarity for rules on reporting for more than 4,000 Canadian facilities.
The proposed regulations will require a minimum standard of secondary treatment of wastewater, or equivalent. Over 75 percent of Canadian municipalities already meet the proposed minimum standards.
Secondly, there would be reporting requirements as a first step towards managing combined sewer overflows.
Looking to the future
EC is working with the provinces and the territories, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canada Water and Wastewater Association, individual municipalities, other federal departments and First Nations to discuss the proposed regulations.
The Government of Canada plays a major role in this effort, having spent or committed more than $3.2 billion for municipal wastewater and water infrastructure since 2005. Funding is also available through the Gas Tax Fund which has been doubled to $2 billion per year. This is ongoing funding that municipalities can count on and can use for wastewater upgrades.
By eliminating the daily discharge of raw sewage into our waterways, we are fulfilling our duties to be responsible stewards of Canadian waterways, which will in turn also protect the health of Canadians and the environment.
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- Canada has a wide variety of water resources, including more than 891,163 square kilometers of fresh water!
- Environment Canada (EC) is developing regulations to control the disposal of wastewater.
- Over 150 billion litres of untreated sewage is dumped into waterways every year.
- Proposed wastewater regulations will set standards for national wastewater effluent quality and provide regulatory clarity for rules on reporting for more than 4,000 Canadian facilities.