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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for Period April 1999 to March 2000

Part III: Nutrients

Nutrients (CEPA Sections 49-51)

Part III regulates the nutrient content of cleaning agents and water conditioners.

In 1997, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommended that Environment Canada determine whether nutrients in general are causing negative environmental effects; whether certain nutrients, rather than nutrients as a class, are problematic; and whether those effects are limited to one component of the environment, such as water, or the entire ecosystem, including wildlife. The Standing Committee also recommended changing the current definition of nutrients. Currently, the definition of nutrients refers to substances that, when applied to waters in excess, provide nourishment for aquatic vegetation.

To address this, an interdepartmental working group was formed with representatives from the departments who are parties to the Memorandum of Understanding on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development (5NR MOU). Under the leadership of the NWRI and the Guidelines and Standards Division, a major assessment of nutrients entering the Canadian environment through human activities is nearing completion. The scientific assessment, "Nutrients and their Impact on the Canadian Environment," will undergo a multistakeholder consultation during the spring of 2001. Findings from the draft report indicate that nutrients released to the environment from human activities have an important impact on water quality. The predominant and most demonstrable impacts are occurring in aquatic ecosystems and causing water use impairments. Scientists have also observed the first symptoms of negative effects on forest ecosystems.

Continuing efforts will be made to ensure that nutrients and their impacts are incorporated as a major theme in any ongoing and emerging water quality programs and committees, at the federal and national level.

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