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July 24, 2014

Fines and Convictions under the Fisheries Act – what can we do?

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In the wake of recent fines levied in Alberta, CWWA’s Wastewater and Stormwater Committee will be discussing the issue and developing a strategy to advocate for better enforcement policies and guidance. 

The Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Commission (ACRWC), a CWWA member, recently pled guilty to an offence under the Fisheries Act after a pumping station failed, releasing untreated wastewater into the Sturgeon River. ACRWC were subsequently fined $200,000 and the penalty was paid to the Environmental Damages Fund.

While we understand that enforcement is an inevitable and necessary component of regulatory regimes, CWWA wants to ensure consistent and reasoned enforcement of the deleterious substance provisions across the country – especially as provisions of the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulation are coming into force and will also be subject to increasing enforcement efforts.

What we are hearing from members is a desire for some clear expectations from the Ministry and some guidance that might elaborate on the concept of due diligence. We appreciate that every incident involving the discharge of a deleterious substance is evaluated on the individual circumstances, and guidance will never completely eliminate vulnerability, but guidelines could provide some baseline for utilities and make preparing a legal defense easier.

Your thoughts and input are always welcome here at the CWWA.


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