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Fondation Rivières releases the sad list of 2020 municipalities


Montreal, October 27, 2021 – For a second year, Fondation Rivières is making public a tool allowing you to discover the list of municipalities that stand out in terms of the intensity of their wastewater spills in 2020. It also updated, on its website, the interactive map of discharges with new data from 2020 which reveals that there were nearly 53,000 wastewater spills last year in Quebec.

The sad 2020 ranking highlights the intensity of spills in nearly 700 municipalities, which makes it possible to distinguish those which have improved since 2019 from those where the situation has deteriorated. This year, we are innovating through the use of powerful software that allows us to compare the performance of municipalities of similar size and also to know their ranking in their respective regions.

Among large cities, Trois-Rivières is just ahead of Longueuil in first position in the ranking of the 10 largest cities in Quebec. It occupies this position because the City experienced a major breakdown in September 2020 which caused a continuous spill for 16 days. Had it not been for this accident, Longueuil would once again be the worst city in Quebec in terms of wastewater discharge, for a second consecutive year.

We can also see a significant deterioration in Lévis and Trois-Rivières between 2019 and 2020. We also note an improvement in Laval, Quebec, Gatineau and Saguenay. On the surface, Sherbrooke presents positive results, but in reality, the City is given a D grade in terms of the quality of the measure, since it has not completed the installation of electronic recorders on nearly half of his works overflowing.

The quality of the measurement illustrates the degree of transparency of municipalities, since it indicates the proportion of major overflow structures that are equipped with electronic recorders. A municipality that properly measures the intensity of its spills is therefore at a disadvantage.

As for medium-sized cities, it is the municipalities connected to the Longueuil agglomeration network which take pride of place in this sad list, followed by Thetford Mines, Saint-Hyacinthe, Shawinigan, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Mercier. Note a notable improvement for Victoriaville. Mid-sized municipalities have absolutely unacceptable per capita intensity levels and this is probably where most of the work remains to be done.

As for small municipalities, Saint-Tite, Caplan, Marsoui, Waterloo, Manseau and Chandler sit at the top of this sad list. Saint-Tite and Manseau saw their performance deteriorate between 2019 and 2020, just like Saint-Joseph-du-Lac and Saint-Césaire. Note an improvement in L'Ange-Gardien, Disraeli, Bedford, Normandin and Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon. Montebello, which topped the list in 2019, ranks 30th this year, an indication that the source of the spills has been partly resolved there: a stream that flowed into the sewer network.

This year, the sad record gives us access to information that was not visible before, including the quality of the measurement and the number of days in the year when there were spills. Quebec City, for example, experienced 318 days with spills out of 365 days of the year.

No notable improvement since last year and permission to pollute for another ten years

The number of spills amounted to 52,794 in 2020, compared to 60,663 in 2019. This decrease is explained by less precipitation in 2020. The milder weather also allowed an overall reduction in the intensity of spills, but these The reductions are not structural, since residential construction is still being authorized without requiring an increase in infrastructure capacity, as we have seen in the case of Saint-Lin-des-Laurentides.

The results are neither worse nor better than last year and they are not about to improve. In a ministerial position of September 22, 2021, the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) recalls that its objective is not to reduce wastewater spills, but simply not to increase them. the number beyond 2014 levels. In this same ministerial position, it grants municipalities until January 1, 2030 to achieve this objective.

“In other words, municipalities have permission to increase pollution in our rivers for the next ten years. The MELCC announces that in ten years, it will crack down on those which have not reduced their pollution level to that of 2014. Why wait until 2030? Why not target delinquent municipalities and tackle the most glaring problems now? That does not make any sense. As the rankings and the map demonstrate, we know exactly where the most glaring problems lie. Prime Minister Legault likes to call himself pragmatic. How pragmatic is such a wall-to-wall measure?” – André Bélanger, general manager of Fondation Rivières.

Visit our website to discover the ranking of the 10 largest cities in Quebec, as well as the TOPS 50 municipalities ranking, according to your selection. If you want to take your analysis a little further, the expert ranking is also at your disposal with more indicators to consult.

About the Spill Intensity Index

The sad record is made on the basis of the spill intensity index developed last year by Fondation Rivières. This index gives an idea of the importance of spills since it takes into account the size of the structures that overflowed and the duration of the spills. By dividing this spill intensity index by the number of inhabitants, it is then possible to compare the performances of municipalities with each other, regardless of their size.

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Updated: November 8, 2022

For informations :

Christian Généreux
Responsible for communications, development and mobilization
514 272-2666, ext. 302


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