Canada Proposes New Wastewater Regulations

The Honorable Jim Prentice, minister of the Environment, announced on Aug. 6 new regulations for managing municipal wastewater. The proposed regulations will set national performance standards, timelines and monitoring and reporting requirements, and are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in December 2009.

"This government is taking real action to ensure that all Canadians have access to clean and safe water," said Prentice. "The proposed regulations will ensure that, across the country, the release of wastewater effluents does not pose unacceptable risks to human and environmental health and fishery resources."

The new regulations deliver on the government's commitment to implementing the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Municipal Wastewater Strategy. They will be developed under the Fisheries Act for more than 4,000 wastewater treatment facilities.

"We recognize the key role that provinces, territories and municipalities play in the management of the wastewater sector, and we are working in partnership with these jurisdictions and other stakeholders through the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment to improve wastewater effluent quality," said Prentice.

Under the Action Plan for Clean Water, the government committed $96 million to restore Lake Winnipeg, Lake Simcoe and several areas of concern in the Great Lakes. The Action Plan complements other initiatives, such as the St. Lawrence Plan, which has allowed the government to invest $323 million over the past 20 years on priorities such as water conservation and protection.

Further commitments to protect Canada's water resources include:

  • Accelerating First Nations' infrastructure projects, focusing on schools and water through $515 million under Canada's Economic Action Plan;
  • Investing in infrastructure through the $33-billion Building Canada Fund to help municipalities and First Nations communities across Canada upgrade their wastewater treatment facilities;
  • Regulating specific industries like metal mines and pulp and paper to reduce the toxicity of their effluents; and
  • Investing $2.5 million over five years to support the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Global Environment Monitoring System GEMS/Water.

"As stewards of the third largest supply of freshwater in the world, it is essential that we preserve and protect our major watersheds for future generations," said Prentice.

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