These standards will have the effect of requiring a minimum of secondary treatment for all municipal sewage treatment plants in Canada over a 30 year period.
Municipal wastewater collection and treatment are amongst the most important public health and environmental services offered by any government and are core municipal responsibilities. Proper wastewater treatment safeguards waters for drinking, bathing and other types of recreation as well as recreational and commercial fisheries.

Since the mid-nineteenth century Ontario municipal governments have operated wastewater treatment and sewage collection networks. Traditionally, however, treatment has been minimal and growing populations have necessitated the upgrade of sewage collection networks and treatment facilities.

Municipalities in Ontario have taken their responsibilities for wastewater treatment very seriously. According to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, of the 462 Municipal Sewage Treatment Plants in the province, all but 11 have not yet upgraded to a minimum of secondary treatment. Of those 11, only six do not currently have funding agreements in place to upgrade.

Ontario’s municipal governments endorse the objectives of the CCME’s strategy to move communities across Canada to a minimum of secondary treatment and believe that this is an important infrastructure investment for safeguarding of public health. It is unfortunate that untreated or preliminarily treated sewage is released into lakes, rivers and oceans in Canada. That this practice still exists is a ready indication of the infrastructure gap that is threatening Canada’s municipal sector and an indication that new financial tools and capacity is needed in the municipal sector as owners of the vast majority of infrastructure in Canada if gains are to be made in protecting and safeguarding human and environmental health and safety.

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