Canadian Consulting Engineer

New Canadian rules would affect 4,600 wastewater treatment plants

October 1, 2007
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Canada's Environment Minister, John Baird, has announced that the government will be setting "hard and tough standa...

Canada’s Environment Minister, John Baird, has announced that the government will be setting “hard and tough standards” for wastewater treatment plants next year.
In an announcement made September 25, Baird said that proposed regulations will govern the release of raw sewage, and establish rules to filter out substances such as phosphates, mercury and pharmaceuticals. The rules would “bring Canada in line with some of the toughest rules in the world today, like those in the European Union,” Baird said.
The rules will affect 4,500 sewage collection and treatment plants across Canada, Baird said, indicating that financial help to plant owners and operators will be available from the federal $33-billion Building Canada infrastructure plan.
In announcing that the federal government’s proposed regulations will be published next year, Baird said: “For too many years previous federal governments have failed to act. This government will take that action. Canada will have tough national rules needed to improve water quality and protect the health of Canadians.”
Wastewater effluent is “one of the largest sources of pollution by volume, discharged to surface water bodies in Canada,” according to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), a council that brings together environment ministers from the federal, provincial and territorial governments.
Controlling sewage treatment and release involves a mish-mash of policies, bylaws and legislation and involves all levels of government, so a few years ago the CCME set out to make sense of the confusion and began developing a Canada-wide strategy for dealing with wastewater. They came up with a proposal in November 2006, and it was open for comment until March 1, 2007. Baird did not indicate whether the new federal rules will be in line with the CSME’s proposed strategy.
Quebec is already moving ahead with proposals to regulate phosphates. Its government will introduce regulations this fall to ban phosphates in dish soap and detergents. The province had a problem with blue-green algae in 158 lakes this summer and is proposing to ban the phosphates as a remedial measure. Quebec is also to revisit pleasure-craft wastewater disposal and will tighten rules on septic tanks. Manitoba banned phosphates in dish soap last year.
A number of consultants provided input to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment regarding its proposed national strategy. Listed on the CCME website are Strategic Alternatives, Mike Fortin Consulting, Marbek Resource Consultants, Hydromantis Inc. and Minnow Environmental. (


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