Posted on July 23, 2012 (updated: July 23, 2012)

Loophole in national wastewater regulations puts Canadian communities at risk

Toronto – Wastewater treatment regulations announced today by the federal government will allow raw sewage to be dumped into Canada’s water until 2040, according to Ecojustice.

Based on a review of the Wastewater System Effluent Regulations, which will apply to municipalities across the country, the national environmental group concluded that a loophole will permit municipalities to delay upgrades for up to 28 years, jeopardizing the lakes, rivers and other sources of water that sustain Canadian communities.

“All Canadians, regardless of where they live, deserve to be protected from harmful substances in our water now — not 28 years from now,” said Dr. Elaine MacDonald, senior scientist at Ecojustice. “Our government has a responsibility to protect the quality of our water and ensure that Canadian communities remain healthy.”

Municipal wastewater treatment plants are the country’s top water polluters, releasing about 150 billion litres of untreated sewage into the water supply each year. More than 136 treatment plants are considered high risk and require upgrades by 2020, while other plants considered medium or low risk won’t have to comply until 2030 or 2040, respectively. However, a loophole could see high and medium risk plants extend their compliance timelines, from 2020 and 2030, to 2040.

For 18 years, Ecojustice has been exposing the risk of sewage through the release of its municipal sewage report cards. The organization continues to advocate for a national wastewater treatment standard, which the United States has had for more than 30 years.

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