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Water Haller: CONFERENCES....LEAD....BUDGET

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Conference season has begun, so I write this month’s column from Montreal where I am participating in Réseau Environnement’s Americana event. This biannual conference addresses all aspects of the environmental and clean tech industry and hosts a uniquely international trade show. Next I’m off to Washington to witness the advocacy efforts of WEF, NACWA and AWWA. Then Toronto for WEAO’s conference mid-April, home to Ottawa for OWWA’s in early May, across to Victoria for BCWWA’s event late May and straight to Blue Mountain for CWRA’s conference and the Canadian Water Summit. June starts with our Window on Ottawa followed by AWWA’s ACE event in Denver, then we host the youth of the world to the IWA’s YP Conference in Toronto. And it’s NEVER too early to register for the National Conference in Banff!!

The WINDOW ON OTTAWA program is now complete and available on the website. PLEASE don’t wait until the last minute to register…you give me heart failure every year! It’s a great program and a great opportunity to meet with senior federal policy makers and be "in the know!"

What’s happening on the federal scene? The new Lead Guidelines were officially published and released early March. There was little interest at first, but the media is starting to pay attention. I’ve done a few interviews with the CBC and expect that interest to grow. So if this becomes an issue in your community, be sure to use our Lead Fact Sheet and the Speaking Notes that are available on our website. We recommend you share these with your communications team and your Council and think about sending them to your provincial regulator and your local Health Unit/Medical Officer of Health. New Manganese Guidelines are expected in April and we’re working on similar Facts Sheet and Speaking Notes.

The Government released the 2019 budget this month. There wasn’t a lot of surprises in there. The commitment to the environment, to water and to First Nations continues with significant federal programs for infrastructure and asset management and climate change. There are funds out there if you are an environmental innovator in Canada! The biggest news for us is an extra $2.2 Billion in the doubling of the Gas Tax Fund for infrastructure. These are solid, distributed and non-competitive funds for all. It’s up to you Water Managers to get that money before your Arena Manager or Transit Authority! More funds are secured through FCM for Climate Change and Asset Management. There are opportunities for loan forgiveness for some First Nations and new funds for governance and a renewed commitment to address Boil Water orders. Some of us may be able to take advantage of funds for skills training, for high-speed internet or for zero-emission vehicles…time to renew the fleet with electrical! 

 If you see me at your regional conference, be sure to say hello!

 Robert