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ARCHIVED - CEPA Annual Report for the Period April 1995 to March 1996

CEPA Part III: Nutrients

Part III of CEPA regulates the nutrient content of cleaning agents and water conditioners. When CEPA was created, the Phosphorus Concentration Regulations, previously under the Canada Water Act, were incorporated under Part III.

During the 1960s, one of the major concerns regarding the degradation of the Great Lakes focused on nutrient enrichment or eutrophication. Phosphorus was identified as the controlling element for eutrophication and, in 1972, controls were placed on the phosphorus content of household detergents. During the same period, programs were implemented at major municipal treatment plants in the Great Lakes Basin to control effluent phosphorus levels.

The National Water Research Institute (NWRI) continues its study of nutrient concentration trends in the Great Lakes and trends in Hamilton Harbour were measured and reported. Lately, amelioration in nutrient loads have ceased and water quality has stopped improving. As expected from OECD relationships, changes in nutrients cause changes in harbour water quality. Further nutrient controls will therefore have a beneficial effect on Hamilton Harbour. Lake Erie nutrient concentrations were at record low values in offshore waters.

The Wastewater Technology Centre (WTC) is currently evaluating low-cost innovative upgrading alternatives for enhanced nutrient removal for biological sewage treatment plants.

The National Hydrology Research Institute (NHRI) also undertook activities under Part III during 1995-96, completing final reports under the Northern River Basins Study, a major federal/provincial initiative to assess the effects of pulp mill effluents on the integrity of large northern rivers. The recommendations will form the basis for an integrated sustainability strategy for large river ecosystems.

As part of the NHRI's involvement in the Fraser River Action Plan, they are developing a citizen monitoring program in which local residents learn simple sampling techniques to determine water quality. NHRI has also begun a new research program to determine the relationships between the quantity of added nutrients and the response of benthic biota, the cumulative effects of long-term nutrient loading and the ecological consequences of interactions between nutrients and toxic substances. The information from this program can be used to establish regulatory guidelines for sustainable management of Canadian river ecosystems.