MNL Emergency Wastewater meeting set for Friday in St. John’s
Seven of the province’s Members of Parliament are confirmed to attend an emergency meeting on wastewater this Friday, September 6 in St. John’s at the Holiday Inn, Portugal Cove Road.
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) called the meeting for its members in early August amid mounting concerns from municipalities on their inability to comply with the Federal Wastewater System Effluent Regulations (WSER), as set out under the Fisheries Act.
“We know we cannot meet the requirements set out in this legislation. Our municipalities do not have the money and the timelines simply cannot work,” said Tony Keats, MNL President. “With a federal election coming, we need to make this a priority issue. Enforcement is ramping up and municipal staff and councils are on the hook for millions of dollars in fines and possible jail time.”
Ninety per cent of municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador have fewer than 4000 residents. Communities have aging and decreasing populations. Many local governments are operating on small and shrinking tax bases.
WSER compliance for larger municipalities with infrastructure already in place will require vast upgrades that could cost hundreds of millions. Smaller municipalities are not equipped to oversee or fund the design, build and operation of millions of dollars of infrastructure that doesn’t even exist yet.
“MNL supports efforts to improve human and environmental health through better wastewater management,” said Craig Pollett, CEO of MNL. “Reaching these goals through the WSER framework is proving to be a challenge. It’s time to have a productive conversation about how we can realistically get to where we need to be.”
The meeting is open to MNL members, media and invited guests only.
The Wastewater System Effluent Regulations (WSER) are part of a Canada-wide strategy for managing wastewater effluent. Under this framework, all municipalities are responsible for registering and monitoring their wastewater outfalls. Municipalities recording wastewater flows of 100m3/day (100,000L/day) or more are subject to additional requirements under the regulations.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, 197 outfalls exceed these outfall limits and require system upgrades. This impacts 115 municipalities.