Water Haller: The busiest few months for advocacy in 9 years!
That’s right, I’ve been here 9 years already! I still feel like a new guy with lots of ideas on how we can always continue to improve. But I swear, these past few months have been the busiest that I can remember as far as advocacy work. Maybe because I’m locked at home and not travelling, or that I left this stuff more to the other staff and committees, but we have been busy!
I have been reporting to you on our participation in the process to create a Canada Water Agency to protect Canada’s water resources. The proposed agency is determining its mandate and how it will work with provinces, territories, First Nations, municipalities, academics, NGO’s and the private sector. A CWWA task group has been participating in a national coalition group and preparing our own detailed submissions. Meanwhile in the House of Commons, the Standing Committee on the Environment has commenced a project to protect freshwater in Canada. This study is similar in ways to the Canada Water Agency, but is more strictly looking at how the federal government addresses water issues amongst its many departments and agencies. CWWA provided a detailed submission to this committee as well.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada has prepared a draft report on Climate Change – looking at impacts and adaptation. Again, our Climate Change Committee is reviewing and providing comments. We continue to work with the Ministry on amendments to the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (WSER) as presented at our CWWA Webinar last fall.
Speaking of effluent, we have been keeping an eye on a Private Member’s Bill (C-269) that proposed to ban the release of any raw sewage, ever, for any reasons. The bill cited the Montreal sewage release of 2015 and proposed removing the ministry’s authority to set conditions for approval. While the bill may have good intentions, it did not seem to grasp the reality of our operations, the condition of our infrastructure, the funding required to address our infrastructure needs, nor a prioritization of investment for maximum environmental results. CWWA and the FCM are monitoring the progress of the bill and preparing comments and responses if required. However, after its first debate in Parliament, it does not seem that this bill will get too far.
A couple of years ago, CWWA developed a national survey with Public Safety Canada and Dalhousie University to consider where our utilities are at as far as resilience, especially in terms of cyber security. The Ministry is now taking that work to the next stage and have engaged the Deloitte group to work with the Canada Centre for Cyber Security to conduct another national survey to drill a little deeper. CWWA and our Security Committee are very much involved of course. Meanwhile, our Drinking Water Quality Committee continues to review and make comments to Health Canada regarding the Canadian Guideines for Drinking Water Quality.
While busy, this is exciting! This is why the CWWA was created and why we continue to exist. It is rewarding to know that our value is recognized at the federal level and that federal departments actively seek our expertise and detailed contributions.
To Meet or Not to Meet? …….. NOT!
Well, the results are in from our member survey and they were an overwhelming NO. As I explained last month, we put out a survey with a simple question – IF the world were to open and we were free to meet, would you be able to come? We gave four options for an answer – Definitely Yes, Probably Yes, Probably No, Definitely No.
While there are many of you (like me) that are so anxious to meet again, the overall response was very clear. Over 60% answered Probably No, or Definitely No. That increased to over 80% when we looked at just the utility responses. The response from our sponsors and exhibitors was also very negative. So it is official, the National Water & Wastewater Conference 2021 will NOT be a live event in Niagara Falls.
We will definitely have a virtual event in November. We are still working out how we might do that, what platform, how many sessions, etc.
As for the future, we have reworked our contracts so the NWWC will be in Halifax in November 2022 and in Niagara Falls in November 2023.
Again….we’re making it up as we go along, J