Canadian Waterkeepers comment on the CCME's Options for a Canada-Wide Strategy for Managing Municipal Wastewater Effluent
The entire submission is available for download here
Waterkeepers are a citizen-based, not-for-profit and charitable organizations working to serve as independent voices for waterways around the globe. Every Waterkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, led by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Nine Canadian Waterkeeper programs patrol some of the world's most magnificent waterways, including tidal bays, Great Lakes, and glacial rivers.
Across Canada, Waterkeepers are responding to complaints from the public about poor water quality, beach closures and paddling in raw sewage. Several of our Waterkeepers have been successful using the Fisheries Act to bring polluters to court, or bringing evidence forward to Environment Canada to demand action on sewage discharges that are spoiling our lakes and rivers. As we write, Fraser Riverkeeper Doug Chapman is the informant in two private prosecutions of sewage-related Fisheries Act offences in British Columbia.
Given that the current Fisheries Act makes it an offence to put a deleterious substance into waters frequented by fish, and given that the courts have successfully defined â€œdeleteriousâ€ in past cases, Canadian Waterkeepers have concerns that new regulations for municipal wastewater effluent may be less protective than the current law that protects our waterways. Regardless of the size of a community or the characteristics of the receiving water body, all Canadians have a right to swim and to eat the fish safely in their local lake or river.
Waterkeepers applaud the CCME for addressing the problem of managing municipal wastewater. This is long overdue and municipalities need to have national standards that are strictly enforced, or we will continue to see the disparate levels of municipal wastewater treatment that we see across Canada today.
Canadian Waterkeepers formally recommend that, any new regulations drafted under the Federal Fisheries Act must prohibit the discharge of deleterious substances into Canadian waters, regardless of who is releasing them or how much money it will cost to fix the problem.
For comments on the drafted strategy, see the entire submission, available for download here