Municipalities Take Their Seat at the Table to Provide Input on Changes to the Federal Wastewater Regulations

September 14, 2020
3:45 PM

St. John’s, NL – After significant advocacy, members of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) will have the opportunity to provide input on changes to the federal Wastewater System Effluent Regulations (WSER).

On June 27, 2020, a notice of intent was published in the Canada Gazette by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) indicating that it was developing proposed regulatory amendments related to transitional authorizations.

At an emergency meeting called last September, MNL brought together the 7 Members of Parliament, provincial ministers and over 100 of its own member representatives to discuss the wastewater regulatory crisis and press for change. One of its asks was for a reopening of the transitional authorizations so that municipalities could reach compliance under the regulations.

“Our members were clear last year that compliance with the regulations was important but practically impossible. They needed more time, and money. Reopening the regulations to address transitional authorizations is a step in the right direction. We look forward to working with our provincial and federal colleagues on the consultation process and next steps,” said MNL President Sheila Fitzgerald.

MNL is hosting a WSER update webinar with speakers from ECCC on September 29 at 11 a.m. and soliciting members to participate in a WSER review working group. For more information or to become part of the working group, contact Webinar registration will be open soon.

The regulations consultation process is open to comments until March 31, 2021.



The WSER came into effect in 2012 under the Fisheries Act. The effluent limits came into effect in 2015. All communities collecting 100 m3 or more of influent and releasing effluent into water frequented by fish are subject to the regulations and required to register their wastewater systems as well as meet the monitoring and reporting requirements. Eligible communities had until June 2014 to apply for transitional authorizations (i.e. permission to release effluent not meeting effluent limits) as they planned and prepared their treatment systems to meet the standards. In Newfoundland and Labrador, only 3 municipalities received a transitional authorization. Data from WSER in 2018 indicate that 206 wastewater systems are registered in the federal reporting system. Of those, around 170 systems are identified as having no treatment. Proposed amendments to the regulations would allow for eligible communities in NL a new opportunity to receive a transitional authorization to the end of 2030 or 2040, provided that they are meeting the requirements and conditions of the regulations.

  • To read the notice of intent, please click here.
  • The consultation website is here.


About MNL

Municipalities Newfoundland & Labrador (MNL) was formed in 1951 as an umbrella organization mandated to represent and support local government in Newfoundland and Labrador. MNL represents the 275 incorporated municipalities in the province that service 89 per cent of the population and their more than 2,000 leaders.

Copyright © 2020 MNL, All rights reserved.
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador

Deatra Walsh – Director of Advocacy and Communications
Cell: 709-986-2771 l email:

Gail Woodfine – Communications and Public Relations Coordinator
Cell: 709-725-1440 l email:

MNL mailing address is
79 Mews Place, St. John’s, NL A1B 4N2