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News Release

Harper Government increases protection for Canada’s water quality

DELTA, B.C. – July 18, 2012 – Today, Canada’s Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, and Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Denis Lebel, announced that the Government of Canada has established an important safeguard for the country’s water quality, by implementing Wastewater System Effluent Regulations.

“We want water that is clean, safe and plentiful for future generations of Canadians to enjoy,” said Minister Kent. “Through these Regulations, we are addressing one of the largest sources of pollution in our waters. We’ve set the country’s first national standards for sewage treatment. These standards will reduce the levels of harmful substances deposited to surface water from wastewater systems in Canada.”

“Safe and reliable wastewater infrastructure is essential to ensuring the health and well-being of families, residents and local business,” said Minister Lebel. “These Regulations will contribute to Canada’s economic future and help to protect the environment.”

The Government of Canada worked with provinces and territories, and also engaged municipalities, to finalize these regulations. It is expected that about 75 percent of existing wastewater systems already meet the minimum secondary wastewater treatment standards in the Regulations. Communities and municipalities that meet the standards will not need to make upgrades to their systems. The other 25 percent will have to upgrade to at least secondary wastewater treatment.

“These standards will ensure untreated and under-treated sewage are not dumped in our country’s waterways,” said Minister Kent. “The estimated benefits to Canadians and our economy include improving fish and aquatic systems health, and increasing safety for recreational activities that are part of our tourism industry.”

For the wastewater systems that do not meet the new standards, there will be time for municipalities to plan and budget funds to complete the upgrades. Wastewater systems posing a high risk must meet the new standards by the end of 2020; those posing medium risk by the end of 2030; and those with low risk by the end of 2040. Owners and operators of the systems will also need to consistently monitor and submit reports on their effluent releases.

Improved water quality is expected to increase property values and reduce water supply costs for municipalities and industry. The new effluent standards align Canada with both the United States and the European Union.

For more information, please contact:

Adam Sweet
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
819-997-1441

Media Relations
Environment Canada
819-934-8008

Environment Canada's Twitter page: http://twitter.com/environmentca

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