Progress Report on the Implementation of the Canada Wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluents

The CCME has published a progress report on the implementation of the Canada Wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluents.
The Strategy includes a total of 11 commitments that were to be met by 2014. This report reviews these commitments and documents each province’s success in implementing them.
  1. Risk Level – Wastewater treatment facilities not meeting the national performance standards were asked to identify their risk level to establish timelines for compliance. According to the report Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan have already met this commitment. Manitoba has similar (if not more stringent) standards in place and is already working with facilities who do not meet them, implementing their own timelines, therefore did not participate in this exercise. The Standards do not apply to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. .However, the Yukon completed the assessment for the small number of facilities who would be subject to the Strategy, they determined that all facilities would meet the NPA based on planned upgrades.
  2. Overflows Due to Development – The Strategy required that overflows would not increase due to development unless part of a long-term abate. All jurisidictions have met this commitment except Saskatchewan (where combined sewer overflows are prohibited, therefore doesn’t apply) and Nova Scotia, who are developing their own standard that will include an overflow strategy more appropriate for the province.
  3. Harmonized Requirements – The Strategy committed to having the requirements of the Strategy integrated into provincial regulatory frameworks by February 2012. The development of the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations is the major tool to ensure national compliance. Many provinces also have or are developing equivalent or better Regulations and processes.
  4. Harmonization – Completion of Bi-lateral Agreements – By February 2012, jurisdictions will establish federal-provincial and federal-Yukon agreements. For the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, an agreement in each of these territories will be developed among the jurisdictions clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the various regulatory bodies in the respective territory. The report offers a complete summary of the status of these agreements and ongoing negotiations. 
  5. Reporting – The Strategy committed the federal government to creating a national database for collecting information on wastewater treatment plants across the country. Environment Canada has created the Effluent Regulatory Reporting Information System (ERRIS) which is used to track compliance data for the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulation.
  6. Municipal Wastewater Effluent Coordinating Committee (MWWE CC) – Tthe Municipal Wastewater Effluent Coordinating Committee was formed after the signing of the Strategy, with its Terms of Reference established in July 2009. The committee provides a forum for jurisdictions to discuss long-term planning, cooperative work and issues arising from implementation of the Strategy.
  7. Environmental Monitoring – The Strategy committed the CCME to develop a watershed level monitoring system. All jurisidictions worked together to develop an environmental effects monitoring program. It is now up to individual jurisdictions to adopt the EEM or continue with current monitoring strategies. 
  8. Performance Standards for Canada’s Far North – The CCME has begun work to develop national standards for Canada’s north including Newfoundland and Labrador. Initial work has done to categorize facilities, as well as research into the obstacles and challenges to implement standards. 
  9. Science and Research Coordination Working Group – A core group of members for SRCB was established, and by late 2010 the Core Group composed of Environment Canada (EC), the Canada Water Network (CWN), the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), and one representative from each of the CCME Biosolids Task Group and CCME Wastewater Coordinating Committee, developed a proposal for establishing a national research agenda. A consortium approach was recommended drawing on the experience and expertise of EC, CWN and CWWA. Provincial and municipal associations were seen to have a role in engaging municipalities, with coordination by CWWA.
  10. Targeted Research Program – National Research Agenda for Municipal Wastewater and Biosolids was completed in 2012. CWWA notes that little progress has been made in establishing a long term funding mechanism for this research to advance the agenda. 
  11. Review of Strategy – The Strategy states that the Coordinating Committee will monitor implementation with a focus on continuous improvement. MWWE CC has reported on the status of implementation of the Strategy across Canada in this report. It should be noted that economic issues in relation to the implementation of the Strategy are considered to be out of scope for this report. However, the Strategy’s Economic Plan demonstrated that the Strategy is affordable if wastewater is made a priority for investment by governments. Therefore, the level of investment by governments will need to be a consideration in future progress reports.
The report goes on to emerging challenges and technical clarifications. One emerging issue identified is the safety of shellfish harvesting close to wastewater outfalls. Health Canada is currently researching the issue of virus transmission and how it relates to food safety. More research is needed into virus inactivation rates using different effluent treatment methods. Another area identified as requiring more research is the effectiveness of natural wetlands for wastewater treatment, especially in the far north.

Canadian Water and Wastewater Association