August 30, 2004

CCME takes first step toward Canada-wide strategy for managing municipal wastewater effluent

The Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME) has established a committee whose specific task will be to develop a Canada-wide strategy for the management of municipal wastewater effluent (MWWE) by November 2006. The initiative follows from the Ministers' meeting last November where, among other things, they agreed to work together to develop a national strategy for harmonized management of municipal wastewater effluents.

The strategy will be based on the principles of flexibility, respect for jurisdictional responsibilities, and a single-window approach for municipalities. It will also recognize the varying challenges and significant costs of implementation. An integral part of the development of the strategy will be to consult with a wide variety of stakeholders to ensure that the strategy for the management of MWWE incorporates their interests, expertise and vision.

MWWE currently ranks as one of the largest sources of pollution, by volume, being discharged to surface water bodies in Canada. Reducing the discharge of pollution through MWWE requires technical measures ranging from source control to end-of-pipe measures.

Moreover, the regulatory regime for managing MWWE includes various policies, bylaws and legislation at all levels - federal, provincial/territorial and municipal. This complex, and at times overlapping, governance often creates confusion and complicated situations for regulators, system owners and operators. The strategy will address both governance and technical issues in order to achieve a harmonized management approach.

The Canada-wide strategy for MWWE will be formulated and implemented on the basis of work done in three specific areas:

1. Harmonization of the regulatory framework, including but not limited to proposing recommendations for harmonizing the generation and exchange of information; examining cost implications and funding mechanisms; and defining a clear, forward-looking and flexible regulatory model.

2. Co-ordination of Science and Research, including recommendations for approaches to disseminating information; preparation of a review of the state of knowledge on science and technology; examination of economic/opportunity costs with respect to cleaner source water; assessment of the need for action regarding emerging issues; and recommendations for approaches to fill information gaps.

3. Environmental risk management model development, addressing management of nitrogen and phosphorous and including the integration of a list of pollutants, achievable/desirable performance standards and characteristics of the site-specific receiving environment.

The CCME process will also review the implementation costs that Canadian municipalities may face. Implementation of the strategy will be phased to suit appropriate financial planning.

In other activities, the CCME, in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention (C2P2) is accepting nominations for the 2005 CCME Pollution Prevention Awards. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2004. The CCME will once again recognize up to seven companies or organizations for their overall pollution prevention efforts, innovations and greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The awards program was established in 1997 to support CCME's emphasis on preventing pollution at the source, rather than cleaning it up or treating it after it has been created.

Details about the awards program and how to apply can be found on the CCME Web site, www.ccme.ca/whatsnew/ or on the C2P2 Web site, www.c2p2online.com/CPPR. More information is also available from Chris Wolnik, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention, 1-800-667-9790, E-mail chris@c2p2online.com.

The Council also reports that it has developed pollution prevention (P2) strategies under four of the Canada-Wide Standards (CWS) for dioxins and furans. P2 strategies for incineration, coastal pulp and paper boilers, iron sintering plants and steel manufacturing electric arc furnaces were developed through a multi-stakeholder advisory group process. Both the strategies and the findings of a review of the CWS for these sectors may be viewed on-line at www.ccme.ca/initiatives/standards.html?category_id=50.

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