Authors Posts by Peter Davey

Peter Davey



On April 24, 2017, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) released, “Excess Soil Management Regulatory Proposal” – a regulation proposal notice for a new regulation and key complementary regulatory amendments related to the management of excess soil.

According to the MOECC, the proposed Excess Soil Reuse Regulation would define “excess soil” as excavated soil that leaves a project area (a construction or development site). Excess soil would be designated as waste from the time it leaves a project area, and would remain a waste until:

  • It is deposited at a final receiving site that is not a waste disposal site and that is governed by a site specific instrument or by-law;
  • It is deposited at an infrastructure project, if it originates from an infrastructure project belonging to the same proponent; or
  • It is deposited at a receiving site that is not a waste disposal site and that is not governed by a site specific instrument or by-law, so long as:
    • The excess soil is appropriate based on MOECC’s excess soil reuse standards;
    • The excess soil has been used for one of the specified uses, subject to certain restrictions; and
    • The receiving site is not being used primarily for the purpose of depositing excess soil.

It is proposed that the proponent of a project ensure that an excess soil management plan (ESMP) is prepared in two general circumstances:

  1.  Ff more than 1000m3 (about 100 truckloads) of excess soil is being removed from a project area, or
  2. If any part of the project area has or had a potentially contaminated activity that may have affected a planned area of excavation.

The proposal notice also includes a summary of proposals associated with excess soils including:

  • Reuse of excess soil at receiving sites;
  • Sampling direction;
  • Record of site condition regulation amendments;
  • Construction restriction and building code applicable law.

The proposal notice will be posted for a 60 day public review and comment period, beginning on April 24, 2017. The MOECC said it anticipates that this regulatory proposal will be finalized before the end of 2017.

Click here to view the proposal notice.

Related: Exclusive CANECT Brownfields Workshop

Hear about this issue firsthand from senior managers at the MOECC by attending the Brownfields: Practical guidelines for remediation and compliance course on May 1, 2017, at the Canadian Environmental Conference & Tradeshow. Learn how these important new developments will impact QEPs, engineers, consultants, owners, developers and environmental lawyers. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

St. Margarets New Brunswick

The community of St. Margarets, New Brunswick has received an estimated $2.15 million in funding for upgrades to their water infrastructure.

The project, announced on April 24, 2017, is being funded through the Gas Tax Fund and involves upgrades to the water system, including two kilometres of new PVC water main, the replacement of hydrants, the replacement of service connections, repairs to the reservoir, and a major upgrade to the existing water treatment building. The project also includes the installation of a back-up generator to provide protection in case of future power outages such as one earlier this year.

The St. Margarets Water and Wastewater Commission provides water distribution and wastewater collection to an area about 30 kilometres southeast of the City of Miramichi. The subdivision consists of many original residences from the former Chatham Airfield and much of the infrastructure is over 60 years old.

According to an article by the CBC, funding has been difficult to come by since St. Margarets isn’t a designated municipality. The funding comes from the federal government but is distributed by the province. The upgrades are expected to take two to three years to complete.

WHO sanitation
Anthony Banbury, Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, washes his hand before visiting an Ebola Treatment Center in Lofa, Liberia. Photo: WHO, CC BY-ND 2.0, via Flickr.

WHO sanitation
Anthony Banbury, Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, washes his hand before visiting an Ebola Treatment Center in Lofa, Liberia. Photo: WHO, CC BY-ND 2.0, via Flickr.

Countries are not increasing spending fast enough to meet the water and sanitation targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says a new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on behalf of UN-Water – the United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater-related issues, including sanitation.

“Today, almost two billion people use a source of drinking-water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.

“Contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma,” added Neira.

The report stresses that countries will not meet global aspirations of universal access to safe drinking-water and sanitation unless steps are taken to use financial resources more efficiently and increase efforts to identify new sources of funding.

 Water sanitation hygiene Water safety and quality Sanitation and wastewater Monitoring and evidence Diseases and risks Environmental health in emergencies Health-care facilities and waste Publications Infographics Drinking water WASH infrastructure is not receiving enough investment Download gif, 90kb Share: National WASH budgets are growing too slowly Download gif, 94kb Share: Foreign aid commitments for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) have declined. Graphic by WHO.
Foreign aid commitments for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) have declined. Infographic by WHO.

According to the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) 2017 report, countries have increased their budgets for water, sanitation and hygiene at an annual average rate of 4.9% over the last three years. Yet, 80% of countries report that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) financing is still insufficient to meet nationally-defined targets for WASH services.

In many developing countries, current national coverage targets are based on achieving access to basic infrastructure, which may not always provide continuously safe and reliable services. Planned investments have yet to take into account the much more ambitious SDG targets, which aim for universal access to safely managed water and sanitation services by 2030.

In order to meet the SDG global targets, the World Bank estimates investments in infrastructure need to triple to US $114 billion per year – a figure which does not include operating and maintenance costs.

While the funding gap is vast, 147 countries have previously demonstrated the ability to mobilize the resources required to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people without an improved source of water, and 95 met the corresponding target for sanitation. The much more ambitious SDG targets will require collective, coordinated and innovative efforts to mobilize even higher levels of funding from all sources: taxes, tariffs (payments and labour from households), and transfers from donors.

“This is a challenge we have the ability to solve,” says Guy Ryder, Chair of UN-Water and Director-General of the International Labour Organization. “Increased investments in water and sanitation can yield substantial benefits for human health and development, generate employment and make sure that we leave no one behind.”

The four air strippers can treat up to 15,000 litres per minute of contaminated groundwater.

The four air strippers can treat up to 15,000 litres per minute of contaminated groundwater.
The four air strippers can treat up to 15,000 litres per minute of contaminated groundwater.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Omaha District has funded the design and construction of a new groundwater treatment plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to treat groundwater from the city’s Borie well field.

This important groundwater supply was reportedly contaminated in the late 1960s with trichloroethylene (TCE) from the former F.E. Warren Atlas Missile Site 4. It was located several kilometres southwest and up-gradient of the current Borie water well field.

The new facility was designed, constructed and placed into long-term automatic operations by McMillen, LLC. Matt Moughamian, McMillen’s project manager says: “For the given application, the most logical and cost-effective groundwater treatment choice was low profile air strippers. Air stripping is a simple, reliable, and proven technology for the removal of TCE from water supplies. Furthermore, the air stripping technology was able to be implemented into the city’s existing well field hydraulic profile at a location where water re-pumping was not required.”

Current TCE concentration in the Borie well field source can range anywhere between 1 ppb – 25 ppb. In early 2010, the USACE contracted with McMillen to start the final design and construction of the new treatment facility to ensure that levels could be reduced to less than 2.0 ppb.

Four six-level tray E-Z Tray Air Strippers from QED, each with a treatment capacity of 3,800 lpm, were used in McMillen’s design to ensure that the TCE treatment goal of less than 2 ppb could be reached without pretreatment.

In Cheyenne’s case, the E-Z Trays do not require off-gas treatment or sequestering agents, making the treatment process fairly simple. The turbulent mixing that occurs in the units creates a high air to water ratio and large mass transfer surface area. This resulted in highly efficient contaminant removal.

“Water goes straight from the Cheyenne wells into the E-Z Trays. The air strippers have been in constant operation since July 2011, with no need to clean the trays because of buildup or fouling,” Moughamian says.

QED’s Online Performance Modeler was used to evaluate Cheyenne’s treatment requirements and determine the best E-Z Tray models for the project. According to Moughamian, the units chosen for the Cheyenne treatment facility have more than enough capacity to handle the city water’s contamination load, “and there have been no issues so far.”

Professor Pierre Bérubé. Photo credit: Clare Kiernan.

Professor Pierre Bérubé. Photo credit: Clare Kiernan.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a simple water treatment process that may make high-quality drinking water more accessible to resource-strapped communities.

Many cities produce potable water by filtering raw water through porous membranes, which separate out contaminants like microorganisms and viruses. But keeping such membranes clean using conventional measures is a complex and expensive task — one that small or remote communities are typically unable to perform.

According to UBC, civil engineering professor Pierre Bérubé and his colleagues designed a membrane system that is significantly easier and cheaper to operate than conventional systems, but still purifies water at volumes and speeds sufficient to meet small communities’ needs.

“This system could help provide clean drinking water to populations where technical expertise or funds are limited,” said Bérubé.

Conventional membrane systems, which actively pump a constant flow of water through its membranes, depend on complex, energy-intensive, high-cost procedures (including air addition, backwashing, and chemical cleaning) to keep the membranes uncontaminated.

By contrast, Bérubé’s system can effectively treat water and be cleaned using gravity alone. Cleaning is aided by a microbial community that grows on the membrane surface, which degrades pollutants and facilitates the removal of natural organic matter — essentially eliminating the need for chemicals.

Bérubé and his colleagues have found that microbes also enhance the performance of other types of filters, such as ion-exchange filters, which remove small- and medium-sized natural organic matter by exchanging ions with them.

Pretreating raw water with such “biologically active” ion-exchange filters — an easy, affordable process — would significantly reduce membrane fouling, cutting operation and maintenance costs even further.

Bérubé’s research on the passive membrane system and biologically active ion exchange appeared recently in Water Research and Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, respectively. The university said full-scale demonstrations will take place in coming months at partner communities in British Columbia.

Article courtesy of the University of British Columbia. View the original here.



Eddie Joyce, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment, gave a statement to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly on April 3, 2017, honouring municipal water operators.

Here is the Minister’s statement:

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize drinking water system operators in this province. Last week, I joined over 300 participants for the annual Clean and Safe Drinking Water Workshop in Gander – everyone from operators, municipal representatives and trade show exhibitors, to national experts in the field.

“At the workshop, I was pleased to present the Volunteer Operator of the Year Award to Mr. Calvin Warford of Pleasantview for over 35 years of countless volunteer hours.

“The Operator of the Year Award was co-awarded to two individuals from Ramea: Mr. Brian Marsden and Mr. John Skinner for their response to storm effects on Ramea’s drinking water in December.

“I also awarded certificates of appreciation to the other 19 nominated individuals for their hard work and dedication.

“In closing, I would like to thank the many system operators that attended the workshop, as they are at the front line for the delivery of water services. I also thank the Water Resources Management Division for organizing this event. It is very important that operators receive the proper training and support, and this workshop is just one of the many initiatives we offer to meet this goal and to ensure drinking water safety and municipal infrastructure sustainability.”

The Town of Ramea declared a state of emergency in December 2016 after a storm surge dumped salt water in the town’s water system. According to the CBC, residents had to conserve water for weeks and fill containers at the treatment plant, since elevated salt levels in the drinking water system made it unsuitable for consumption.

Read the full statement here.

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Provincial and federal funding was announced for a number of water and wastewater infrastructure projects across Canada.

British Columbia

Port Alberni, British Columbia – Additional funding was announced for the City of Port Alberni’s wastewater treatment system upgrades.

The $6.7 million in joint provincial and federal funding comes from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF) and was announced on March 21, 2017.

The City’s wastewater treatment upgrade project will utilize a disused lagoon facility purchased by the City from Catalyst Paper, resulting in an expanded wastewater treatment capacity. The City of Port Alberni said the new wastewater system should exceed federal and provincial standards.

Costs associated with the overall project have been estimated at approximately $22 million, excluding the acquisition costs of the lagoon facility.


The government of Ontario announced $737,948 to support improvements to the Picton Water Treatment Plant in Prince Edward County. Picton is one of 55 communities receiving infrastructure funds from the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund.

The announcement was made on April 10, 2017, by Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal. According to the province, upgrades to the plant will include filter rehabilitation and improvements to the chlorine system.


Chibougamau, Quebec – The governments of Canada and Quebec announced an investment of more than $2.2 million for upgrades to the Town of Chibougamau’s wastewater pumping stations, in the Nord-du-Québec region.

The announcement was made on April 10, 2017, in Chibougamau, with funds coming out of the CWWF.

The federal government’s contribution amounts to $1.3 million and the provincial government is providing almost $880,000 for a total joint contribution of over $2.2 million. The municipality will provide the remainder of the funding.

Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard, Quebec – Over $1.35 million in joint federal and provincial funding was announced on April 8, 2017, for renewal of Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard’s water pipes.

The Government of Canada is investing more than $815,000 and the Government of Quebec is providing more than $535,000 for a total joint contribution of over $1.35 million. The municipality will provide the remainder of the funding.

According to Infrastructure Canada, this project is in addition to the 12 projects already announced for the Laurentians region under the CWWF and the New Building Canada Fund-Quebec, Small Communities Fund (NBCF-SCF).

Les Coteaux, Quebec – More than $3.6 million in joint provincial and federal funding was announced on April 7, 2017,  for  two water projects in the Montérégie region under the CWWF: one in the Régie d’assainissement des Coteaux, and one in the Town of Brome Lake.

The Government of Canada is contributing more than $2.2 million and the Government of Quebec is providing more than $1.4 million for a total joint contribution of over $3.6 million.

The projects supported by these funds will contribute to the maintenance, renewal and development of drinking water treatment and distribution infrastructure, and treatment and disposal of wastewater.

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Transport Canada released on March 27, 2017, “Enhancing the regulatory framework for emergency response assistance plans (ERAPs)” – a consultation document on proposed amendments to Part 7 (ERAPs) of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDG Regulations).

The following proposed changes would require, among other things:

  • An ERAP to be activated if any of the following criteria are met for dangerous goods requiring an ERAP:
    • Could the integrity of the Means of Containment have been compromised?
    • Is a transfer anticipated or required?
    • Is there a release or an anticipated release?
    • Did a First Responder/Authority Having Jurisdiction/Carrier ask for assistance to mitigate the situation?
  • Activation of an ERAP will also be permitted if the above criteria are not met, but the ERAP holder judges that activation is necessary.
  • Once the decision to activate has been made, the ERAP holder must contact CANUTEC as soon as reasonably possible, taking into account the need to ensure public safety and must activate to Tier 1 (provision of technical advice over the telephone) upon activation of the ERAP.
  • Descriptions of potential accidents and responses corresponding to the three Tiers of Service must be included in the Potential Accident Assessment going forward, in order for an ERAP to be approved or renewed.
  • A technical advisor must be available to answer a call to the ERAP telephone number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while the dangerous goods requiring an ERAP are in transport.

Click here to access the discussion document.

A presentation on proposed changes to the ERAP legislation will be featured at the Preparing for and Responding to, Spills and Environmental Emergencies course on May 2, 2017, at the Canadian Environmental Conference & Tradeshow. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

Article courtesy of Canadian Environmental Regulation & Compliance News, April 2017 edition.


On February 24, 2017, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans tabled its latest report on the 2012 amendments to the Fisheries Act. Following its exhaustive review, the Committee recommended that Parliament reverse amendments to subsection 35(1) and restore the intent of original wording prohibiting “the harmful alteration or disruption, or the destruction, of fish habitat,” which had been frequently invoked when charges were laid for water pollution.

While the Standing Committee’s primary recommendation was to restore the intent of the original provisions, it also recommended going beyond those by adopting an “ecosystem approach to fish habitat protection to protect marine biodiversity as a whole, not just commercially valuable species.”

In total, the Committee report contains over 30 recommendations to improve the Act including:

  • That section 35(1) of the Fisheries Act return to its wording as of 29 June 2012 which reads: “No person shall carry on any work, undertaking or activity that results in the harmful alteration or disruption, or the destruction, of fish habitat.”
  • That the concept of “serious harm” to fish be removed from the Act.
  • That Fisheries and Oceans Canada take an ecosystem approach to protection and restoration of fish habitats so that the entire food web is preserved for fish.
  • That Fisheries and Oceans Canada create a public and accessible database system that will identify:
    • The location and status of projects that have been flagged by the Department of having a potential to cause harm to fish and fish habitat (authorizations, monitoring results and convictions) and their cumulative effects;
    • The location of different aquatic species; up-to-date monitoring of aquatic species at risk and their status; and
    • The status of authorizations; and
    • That sections 32, 35 and 36 Fisheries Act authorizations as environmental assessment triggers be re-examined.

Click here to access the report.

A presentation on changes to the Fisheries Act will be featured at the Water & Wastewater: Regulation & Compliance course on May 3, 2017, at the Canadian Environmental Conference & Tradeshow. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

Article courtesy of Canadian Environmental Regulation & Compliance News, April 2017 edition.

A pair of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis say proposed federal budget cuts could have a lasting impact on how our country researches and regulates the environment. Courtesy of WashU.

The public is getting its first look at the Trump administration budget proposal, which includes steep cuts to federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency — with a 31-per cent proposed reduction and its Office of Research and Development set to be slashed — and the National Institutes of Health decreased by nearly 20 percent. A pair of engineers who are water and air-quality experts at Washington University in St. Louis say the budget moves could signal sweeping changes in the way our nation regulates and researches the environment.

Dan Giammar
Dan Giammar

“The EPA funds research in its own national laboratories, such as the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) in Cincinnati, and at universities,” said Dan Giammar, the Walter E. Browne Professor of Environmental Engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, whose research focus is water quality.

“There are some pressing challenges in securing the quality of our nation’s drinking water that will require continued investments in research.  For example, the NRMRL has experts and facilities that are uniquely poised to address lead and other distribution-system water quality issues like those of the Flint water crisis.  Another example is the need for research on the water quality in buildings, which again was exemplified by the crisis in Flint, and the EPA is one of the few organizations that would have such research in its scope.”

Rajan Chakrabarty, assistant professor of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering researches air quality and the role of particulate emissions in the atmosphere.

Rajan Chakrabarty,
Rajan Chakrabarty,

“The EPA budget cuts come on the heels of recent observations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of a 6-parts-per-million surge in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration levels in the past two years (2015 and 2016), which is an unprecedented amount in the Mauna Loa Baseline observatory’s 59-year record,” Charkabarty said.

“With the new administration enacting severe budget cuts for the agency, which includes trimming down key climate change programs and core initiatives aimed at protecting air and water quality, we are headed towards grim consequences of climate change on society at large.

“The (Trump administration cites a) lack of concrete and inconclusive science backing the role of CO2 has been a factor influencing these budget cuts. Interestingly enough, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first quantitative estimate of global warming by a climate model, described in the landmark 1967 publication titled “Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity” by Drs. Syukuro Manabe and Richard T. Wetherald.

“A major finding of this paper was that doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels would have an effect of raising the temperature of the atmosphere by about 2 degrees Celsius. The impending dangers associated with CO2 and global warming were clearly laid out and quantified 50 years ago. The current administration should be wary of this fact and take such important scientific findings into consideration in their decision-making processes and policies.”

Article republished with permission from Washington University in St. Louis. See original article here.