New Brunswick

Prentice proposes stronger waste-water rules

The federal government is proposing stronger new regulations on how much wastewater can be discharged by municipal treatment facilities.

The federal government is proposing new stronger regulations on how much waste water can be discharged by municipal treatment facilities.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced a set of proposed regulations at a speech in front of the Saint John Board of Trade on Thursday.

If the proposed reforms are implemented, they will apply to 4,000 treatment facilities across the country, said Prentice.

"Anything short of this is unacceptable, as environmental and health problems, even tragedies, may be the consequences of waste-water systems that do not work as they should," Prentice said in his speech.

"Each time we close a beach or issue a boil-water advisory, we are reminded that we must do more to protect our water resources."

The federal environment minister said the existing policies and laws across the country that enforce the amount of effluent that is allowed to be released are "confusing."

These new regulations are a part of consultations carried out by the federal government between October 2007 and January 2008.

The reforms will apply to all land-based waste-water systems operated by the local, provincial or federal government.

Regulations to be revised

Prentice told the Saint John audience that the proposed changes will set national performance standards for these waste-water facilities, as well as timelines, monitoring and reporting requirements.

The proposed regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette in December 2009. The department will be asking for feedback, and the regulations will be revised and finalized in 2010.

The federal government expects that municipalities will not be able to meet these new regulations without secondary sewage treatment.

David Coon, the policy director for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, attended Prentice's speech in Saint John on Thursday. He said the proposed regulations will help, but don't go far enough.

"This isn't going to get us tertiary treatment yet. What it is going to do is basically improve the secondary treatment we've got," Coon said.

"It is going to reduce the pollution, it is going to require the upgrading of existing plants but not require new technologies to get the remaining amount of pollution out."