The Harper government is finally vowing to crack down on municipalities that have been dumping raw sewage into the world’s oceans. Despite the obvious threat it poses to the environment, each year almost 150 billion litres of untreated sewage is released into Canada’s waterways.
Environment minister, Peter Kent, was informed of the problem when he took office in 2011, and bureaucrats pointed out that municipal sewage was one of the leading causes of pollution in Canada’s water system, affecting everything from swimming to fishing to wildlife and even drinking water. Environment Canada had initially intended to finalize the regulations in spring 2011, but the plan has been pushed back repeatedly by the Tories.
At least now they have finally agreed to put the new standards in place. The government has indicated that communities will have somewhere between 10 to 30 years to clean up their act, depending on the level of risk they pose. Municipalities with outdated systems are now left to figure out how to cover the cost, which could be as much as $20 billion, according to Environment Canada estimates. The federal government has been warned that it may fall to the taxpayers to foot the bill, but no doubt this is something long overdue. The U.S., by comparison, has required its wastewater to be treated since the 1970s.