Every year about 150 billion litres of untreated sewage are dumped into Canadian surface waters. In 2010 I blogged about then Environment Minister JIm Prentice releasing a draft of proposed municipal wastewater systems effluent regulations, which are designed to set standards for the discharge from all 4,000 wastewater facilities in Canada. Fundamentally it would no longer be permitted to directly release raw sewage into waterways. This is part of implementing the Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater that was endorsed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) in 2009. Since then the target for introducing legislation to make these propsed regulations law has been pushed back. According to the Ottawa Citizen, Environment Canada is going ahead with plans to table the proposed legislation.
The Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations were designed by Environment Canada in close consultation the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Environment Canada wants to put towns and cities into three categories of risk when it comes to their wastewater systems. High, medium and low categories would be given until 2020, 2030 and 2040, respectively, to comply with the regulations.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, in 2006 Environment Canada estimated that cities would need up to $20 billion over two decades to bring municiple wastewater systems up to the proposed standard. How this is to be funded is still under discussion. The Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister has said he is continuing to work with municipalities on delivering a long-term funding plan to help them maintain and upgrade aging roads, bridges, water systems and other local infrastructure. It is expected that any funding solution will need to involve the provinces and the municipalities.