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World Water Day: water sanitation has been drifting for four years



Montreal, March 22, 2018 – The Quebec government has withdrawn from important responsibilities since the adoption, four years ago, of the Regulation respecting municipal wastewater treatment works (ROMAEU). Since then, municipalities are no longer supported by the State, performance results are still not accessible to organizations, the identification of problems and solutions are not prioritized, particularly at the watershed level. .

The last report on the subject dates from 2013. It assessed some 811 treatment plants and 4,457 pipes discharging untreated wastewater into the environment during rainy weather. Since then, the inspection and support teams for improving operations have been dismantled. Access to the government computer system is still not accessible despite Minister Heurtel's commitment made a year ago. But there is worse.

Non-existent sanitation certificates

The Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MDDELCC) has still not issued a single sanitation certificate to municipalities, despite the regulations in force. The announcement made to municipalities in July 2014 mentioned their “soon” delivery. These certificates are like “operating permits”. They had to rule on the performance of sanitation systems and ensure that the equipment meets the needs for protection of receiving environments. In particular, they had to rule on wastewater overflows during rainy weather which could be tolerated by the receiving environment. However, these are increasing. The certificates were to constitute, in short, “a tool for implementing a process of continuous improvement of all discharges from a municipal wastewater treatment plant".

The case of the Richelieu River

Our last study of 31 sanitation systems located on the Richelieu River and the Saint-Laurent area indicates that only six of these do not require investment. Overflows are numerous and increasing, some stations are obsolete, others lack equipment. However, the subsidies that come from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy (MAMOT) do not take into account the sanitation priorities of the receiving environment which is the watershed. The money is distributed to municipalities according to requests received, without regard to the environmental profitability of the work. However, an exercise could easily identify the work that would provide the most environmental gains, all while taking into account the municipalities' ability to pay.

A regional vision, a regional solution

While financial surpluses accumulate in government coffers, environmental liabilities are created. The government saves money by downsizing and delegating activities, transferring oversight roles to municipalities, research and innovation to environmental groups, and program management to paragovernmental organizations.

Unless the State is able to identify priority works, the Fondation Rivières recommends that this planning be entrusted to watershed organizations. The 40 organizations already well established throughout Quebec have been recognized in the Water Act since 2009. They have a good understanding of the territory and the issues related to water quality, having all produced a water master plan. water with governmental, municipal, economic, environmental and social stakeholders in the territory, which would make it possible to support these analyzes by watershed and target intervention priorities. They are equipped with already functional scientific staff. As long as an additional budget is dedicated to it, the work can be accomplished more quickly. The Green Fund or the Generations Fund, endowed with billions of dollars, would thus be adequately put to use.

Quebecers have invested massively over the past forty years to clean up their water. It is important to stop the decline experienced over the past four years and to ensure the sustainability of the installations, to operate them properly and to improve them. Let us rise to the occasion, on this World Water Day, to do everything we can to respect the supporting capacity of the WATER ecosystem.


For informations :
Alain Saladzius
514 924-2013

Photo: Daniele Levis Pelusi/Unsplash


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