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2018 Window on Ottawa - Event Summary

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CWWA’s Annual Window on Ottawa was held June 5-6. This year we tried a new venue – the Lord Elgin Hotel – offering our delegates closer access to the heart of the city. We also tried to renew the program, with more panel discussions and we heard from new voices on the national water scene, along with the important federal departments that are always a cornerstone of this important event.

The Window opened with a snapshot of federal infrastructure funding – with presentations by Infrastructure Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and CWWA. We heard about the ongoing federal infrastructure funds as well as updates on the newer funds like the Disaster Mitigation Funds and FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program and Climate Innovation Funds.

The Window then moved on to biosolids issues in Canada. With the move to universal secondary wastewater treatment, there will be more biosolids produced in Canada, and the beneficial use on farm land remains one of the most appealing end uses. However, there are challenges – ranging from public perception, to forming partnerships with local farmers, to meeting provincial requirements. The panel recognized that there is a need for a strong national voice advocating for biosolids use in Canada. However, a lot of work needs to be done to strengthen that voice, and ensure that is in harmony with research and municipal partners.

During lunch we were honoured to welcome Mr. Hakan Cengiz, Counsellor Turkish Embassy, who spoke about water management in Turkey, and shared some stunning photos of his country! Delegates learned about current challenges the Turkish water sector and infrastructure are facing and efforts in meetings water demands.

In the afternoon we had two panel discussions on climate related issues – flooding and adaptation. We were updated on the National Roundtable on Flooding – both the discussion that has occurred at the meetings of this group, and the path forward towards a national strategy to manage and respond to flooding across the country. Delegates got an update about CWWA’s Climate Change technical committee’s support and involvement in the National Research Council’s (NRC) project as well as some research projects developed across the country pertaining to adaptation to climate change. NRC representative invited panelists and delegates to provide ideas for future research priorities.

Our final presenter of the day spoke about Great Lakes Protection. There is a need to reduce nutrient loadings to the Lakes, especially Lake Erie.

On Day 2 we heard from federal departments including an update on Health Canada on the development of Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and a panel discussion of the new proposed guideline for lead in drinking water – discussing the challenges of implementation for utilities.

On the wastewater side we hosted a panel discussion on the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, specifically the difficulty some utilities will have in meeting the Regulations on time. We also had a panel discussion on a recent CWN report on a National Review of Known and Emerging Contaminants in Wastewater, and the next steps to guide research to ensure the priorities identified in the report are reflected in research.

The final presentations of the Window included an update on the Fisheries Act and changes the federal government will be making to restore habitat protection and other provisions, an update from Public Safety Canada on initiatives to protect water as a critical infrastructure sector and a presentation on ISO activities and opportunities for Canadian involvement.