Municipalities in Nova Scotia now have until 2020 to comply with the government's stricter safe drinking water standards.

The original target was 2008, but many municipalities still can't comply with the regulations.

The NDP government also said it's willing to wait until 2020 for municipalities to begin to treat their wastewater.

The new dates are part of the amendments being made to the province's Environmental Goals and Sustainability Prosperity Act.

Minister of Environment Sterling Belliveau said these new targets will benefit the environment because they're "realistic."

"It's something that we want to see complete and to know that we have willing partners when it comes to municipal units that want to do this. Also we have to have a realistic timeframe in order for this to be accomplished," he said.

Belliveau said one of the problems is the cost of upgrading water and sewer systems. He said the federal government needs to come to the aid of more municipalities to help pay those bills.

The official opposition is offering lukewarm support to the change.

"In practical terms I don't really have any problems with the new goals that they've put in place, but it does strike me that they're spending a lot of time and effort amending legislation and putting in new goals rather than actually trying to achieve things in the environment, which is, you know, what most people would rather see at this point," said Liberal critic Andrew Younger.

Municipalities who don't comply with the new target won't face much in the way of consequences. There are no penalties for missing the targets.