Canadian Consulting Engineer

Dollars flow for waterworks

August 8, 2001
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The government of Quebec has announced major spending on work to update its water supply infrastructure. Like Ontar...

The government of Quebec has announced major spending on work to update its water supply infrastructure. Like Ontario and other provinces, Quebec has adopted new drinking water quality regulations in the wake of the Walkerton disaster. The Quebec rules are among the strictest in North America and affect all water systems serving 20 or more persons, including private wells. About 4,500 waterwork systems may have to be upgraded and the cost is estimated at $660 million.
From now on 77 substances will be monitored and sampling for bacteriological control has been increased from two times a year to eight times a month. All surface source water has to be filtered – at the moment 300 municipal systems in the province do not filter surface water before distributing it.
The province’s Infrastructure-Quebec program (a partnership between the province and municipalities) will provide $160 million for the required water system upgrades and the Canada-Quebec Infrastructure works program will provide $300 million.
One of the projects that has already been earmarked for funds is the Dufour Acqueduct network in the municipality of Saint-Prime. It will be upgraded with a new pumping system and reservoir, a new network and disinfection facilities. The Quebec Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Infrastructures-Quebec program announced early in August they were to assign $925,000 to the project.
In another environmental spending spree, the Quebec Environment Minister and Minister of State for Muncipal Affairs and Metropolitan Regions has just announced it will give almost $12 million in financial assistance to help communities develop waste management plans. New regulations under the Environmental Quality Act require municipalities to develop comprehensive waste management plans by January 1, 2003.
Ontario too is digging deep into its pockets for infrastructure improvements. In the 2001 budget speech, the government said it was spending $240 million in the first phase of the Ontario Small Towns and Rural (OSTAR) program, and is developing a $10 billion long-term water and sewer infrastructure investment program with its SuperBuild initiative. It hopes to attract $10 billion more from investment partners.
So far Ontario’s new Drinking Water Protection Regulations (passed a year ago) have forced corrective actions in 311 out of 645 drinking water supply plants. The regulations cover water works that supply more than six residences, or have the capacity to supply 250,000 litres per day. Among the new requirements are testing for a wide range of parameters, including coliforms, fecal coliforms, E.coli, chlorine residuals, lead and arsenic. All drinking water has to be disinfected and owners must provide quarterly reports on the state of the supply.
Ontario consulting engineering firms have been hired to help the Ontario Ministry of the Environment as it establishes the new regime. They are auditing engineering reports submitted by the water distributors. Many firms will also benefit from this windfall as it presents opportunities for them to engineer and design the extensive new infrastructure works that are required.


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