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Peter Davey

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Athabasca River
Shoreline of the Athabasca River. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC (formerly known as Coal Valley Resources Inc.) pleaded guilty in Alberta Provincial Court on June 9, 2017, to two counts of violating the Fisheries Act. The Honourable Judge C.D. Gardner sentenced the company to pay monetary penalties totaling $3,500,000.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), on October 31, 2013, a dike that was holding back a large volume of wastewater at the Obed Mountain Mine failed, resulting in more than 670 million litres of contaminated water and sediment (made up of coal, clay and sand) spilling into the Apetowun Creek and Plante Creek, and additionally impacting the Athabasca River.

Prairie Mines & Royalty ULC pleaded guilty to:

  • One count of carrying on a work, undertaking or activity that resulted in the harmful alteration or disruption, or the destruction, of fish habitat in contravention of s.35(1) of the Fisheries Act; and,
  • One count of depositing or permitting the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish in contravention of s.36(3) of the Fisheries Act.

ECCC said $1.15 million of this sentence will be put into a trust to be managed by the University of Alberta to create the Alberta East Slopes Fish Habitat and Native Fish Recovery Research Fund. The remaining $2.15 million will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.

This case was a coordinated multi-year joint investigation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Province of Alberta.

To view the original release, visit: www.ec.gc.ca

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Beginning August 1, 2017, water bottlers in Ontario will pay $503.71 for every million litres of groundwater taken. The announcement was made by the Ontario government on June 8, 2017, as part of the province’s plan to strengthen groundwater protection for future generations.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), the new fee will help recover costs associated with managing groundwater taken by water bottlers, including supporting scientific research on the environmental impacts as well as enhanced data analysis on groundwater taken for water bottling.

In Ontario, water bottling facilities must apply for permits to take water from groundwater sources, if the facility takes more than 50,000 litres of water on any day.

Other elements of Ontario’s groundwater protection plan include:

  • A moratorium on all new and expanded permits to take water from groundwater sources for water bottling. To remain in effect until January 1, 2019.
  • The introduction of new, stricter rules for renewals of existing bottled water permits.
  • Research to ensure long-term water protection, including considering the impacts of climate change and future demand on water sources.
  • Engaging Indigenous partners, communities and industry on changes to water quantity management practices.

The MOECC estimates that bottled water produces about 180 times the greenhouse gas emissions of tap water due to the use of plastic and fossil fuels used for transportation.

To view the original release, visit: news.ontario.ca

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agriculture-river
Photo credit: Adobe Stock | Colos

The Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food has announced a contribution of more than $2.9 million for two McGill University projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by water and fertilizer use in agriculture. The announcement was made on June 12, 2017, in Sainte-Anne-De-Bellevue, Quebec.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, this funding comes from the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP). It will enable McGill University to develop policies, models and new practices for water management systems, and to assess the effectiveness and the impact on soils of using municipal biosolids as fertilizers in three different Canadian climate zones.

The AGGP is a $27-million initiative intended to help the agricultural sector adjust to climate change and improve soil and water conservation.

To view the original release, visit: www.newswire.ca

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Alberta

The government of Alberta announced on May 29, 2017, more than $131 million from the Water for Life and the Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership grant programs, to support 29 water infrastructure projects across the province.

The approved projects include a wastewater line from Sylvan Lake to Red Deer, with $37 million in provincial Water for Life grants. The line will handle wastewater from the Sylvan Lake region to meet the current and future needs of the community as it taps into its potential as a growing tourism destination.

To view a full list of projects covered under this announcement, and their eligible project cost, visit: www.alberta.ca

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland announced $4.5 million for the City of Corner Brook and $4.5 million for the Western Regional Service Board.

Funding for the City of Corner Brook projects comes through the Multi Year Capital Works program and includes water quality improvements, storm sewer upgrades, culvert replacements, and upgrades to city infrastructure.

Western Regional Service Board improvements come from the Federal Gas Tax Agreement and will target priorities in regional waste management infrastructure.

To view the original release, visit: www.releases.gov.nl.ca

Ontario

The governments of Ontario and Canada announced funding for 13 new projects in Windsor under the Government of Canada’s Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).

The federal government is providing up to 50% of funding for these projects – over $6.1 million. The provincial government is providing up to 25% of funding for these projects – over $3 million, and the City of Windsor will fund the remaining costs of the projects.

To view the original release as well a list of CWWF projects in Ontario, visit: www.newswire.ca.

Saskatchewan

The governments of Saskatchewan and Canada announced funding for 75 new water and wastewater projects throughout Saskatchewan. This investment represents combined federal, provincial and local partner funding of more than $94 million for 74 CWWF projects, and one project under the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – National and Regional Projects.

The funding will support such initiatives as building new sewage treatment lagoons, upgrading sewage pumps, and improving drinking water supply systems.

To view the original release, visit: www.saskatchewan.ca

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Funding was recently announced for a number of environmental and infrastructure projects across Canada. Environmental Science & Engineering Magazine has compiled these announcements and broken them down by province.

Canada-wide

On May 17, 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada announced $5.5 million from the Environmental Damages Fund for environmental projects in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Québec and Saskatchewan.

According to the Ministry, this funding will support projects that help to restore or enhance the environment, conduct environmental research, and provide public education on environmental issues. Eligible applicants include: non-governmental organizations; universities and academic institutions; indigenous organizations; and provincial, territorial and municipal governments. For details on funding, visit www.ec.gc.ca/edf-fde.

Ontario

In the Region of Peel, the Government of Canada announced on May 23, 2017, that 30 new projects were approved under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund. Federal funding will cover up to 50% of these projects’ costs, which amounts to over $69 million. Funding from the Government of Ontario will cover up to 25%, or $34 million.

According to Infrastructure Canada, this investment will cover the rehabilitation and/or replacement of a number of sewage pumping stations, as well as equipment at several wastewater treatment plants in the Region.

Dipika Damerla, Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga East—Cooksville, said that this investment “will ensure that Mississauga has clean water and reduce risks of flooding.”

On May 23, 2017, Infrastructure Canada also announced support for wastewater treatment and stormwater infrastructure in Ottawa.

Eighteen new projects in Ottawa were approved under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund. The federal government is providing up to 50% of funding for these projects—$30.2 million. The provincial government is providing up to 25% of funding for these projects—$15.1 million, and the recipient will provide the balance of funding.

Projects supported by this investment include a new stormwater management and snow disposal facility on West Brook Drive, upgrades to the Robert O. Pickard Environment Centre Thickening and Dewatering Building, and a project to construct sanitary sewers and watermains in the Vanier area.

Newfoundland and Labrador

On May 19, 2017, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced more than $5.5 million in joint federal-provincial funding for the second phase of the Portugal Cove Road water transmission main replacement project in St. John’s.

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Environment, the federal government is contributing up to $2,652,573 to this project, while the provincial government is providing $2,918,387. The City of St. John’s will provide the remainder of the funding towards the total project cost of $8,776,146.

The project aims to reduce service outages and traffic disruptions caused by breakages in the water main. Replacement of this critical stretch will also improve the efficiency and reliability of water transmission from the Windsor Lake water treatment facility to residences in the east end, city centre and downtown areas of St. John’s.

 

 

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oil-cleanup-annoucement
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd make announcement at an orphan well site near Carstairs.

The Alberta government introduced legislation on May 18, 2017, that would allow it to lend the Orphan Well Association (OWA) $235 million to speed up proper abandonment and reclamation of a growing number of oil and gas well sites that no longer have a responsible owner.

The provincial government estimates that this loan will lead to up to 1,650 new jobs in reclamation work over the next three years, reducing the liability facing the OWA by approximately one-third. Alberta has an estimated 180,000 active wells, 83,000 inactive wells and 69,000 abandoned wells.

If the legislation is passed, the province said it would finance the loan by using the $30 million provided in the recent federal budget to backstop a loan much larger and at more favourable rates than the OWA could access on its own.

Orphan Well Association

The OWA is an industry-funded agency that works to close and reclaim infrastructure from oil and gas companies that no longer exist. This involves removing equipment, sealing wells and ensuring the safety of the site for the public. It has an annual budget of $30 million, which is scheduled to increase to $60 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year. According to the Government of Alberta, this budget and its increase will be entirely covered by industry levies.

As of March 2017, the OWA had an inventory of 2,084 orphaned wells to go through closure activities (1,394 to be abandoned, 690 to be reclaimed). The agency closed 185 wells last year.

The annual budget for the OWA is $30 million and is scheduled to increase to $60 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year. This budget and its increase will be entirely covered by industry levies.

The loan program would be in addition to the ongoing closure and reclamation operations done every year by the OWA. The loan will be repaid to the Alberta government over a 10-year period. Repayment will be funded through the existing orphan fund levy paid by industry and managed on the OWA’s behalf by the Alberta Energy Regulator.

In addition to the OWA loan program, the Alberta government said it is working with industry and experts to find ways to better protect Albertans and the environment over the long term by improving the policies for managing old oil and gas liabilities.

To see the original release, visit: www.alberta.ca

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2280577 Ontario Inc. (formerly Naylor Renewable Energy Inc.) pleaded guilty to three offences and was fined $600,000 for causing or permitting the discharge of sediment-laden stormwater and impairing the quality of the water, failing to notify the ministry of the discharge, and failing to employ best management practices for stormwater management, and sediment and erosion control as required by the ministry approval, contrary to the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) and the Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

In May 2012, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) issued a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) authorizing the construction of a 10 megawatt solar farm known as the Hamilton Solar Facility (HSF) located in Hamilton Township.

As a result of contractual arrangements between the REA holder and various companies, 2280577 Ontario Inc. assumed the primary responsibility to implement and monitor the measures as stipulated in the stormwater management, erosion and sediment control plan, as required by the REA.

Construction of the HSF site began in 2013 and continued beyond 2014.

In late March 2014, MOECC staff responded to a complaint by inspecting the HSF site. Ministry staff observed that the erosion and sediment control measures were inadequate. 2280577 Ontario Inc. was advised that stormwater and erosion controls must be enhanced, a sediment control inspection program must be established and implemented, and that any spills or discharges must be reported to the ministry.

On April 2, 2014, in response to a further complaint and to determine whether mitigation measures had been successfully implemented, ministry staff conducted another inspection at the HSF site. At that time, MOECC staff observed inadequate or improperly maintained erosion and sediment control measures that permitted the discharge of sediment-laden water to nearby streams.

MOECC staff observed that snow melt flow was discharging silt-laden water directly into a tributary of Brook Creek and across a farmer’s field to a culvert that connects to the tributary of Baltimore Creek.

Further inspections on April 29, 2014 and June 11, 2014 observed turbid, silt-laden water again being discharged from the HSF site into the two tributaries, with water samples indicating that the concentration of suspended solids were greatly elevated at the site and downstream.

Based on the information collected during these inspections, a MOECC surface water scientist concluded that the discharges of sediment-laden water from the HSF site caused the impairment of the headwaters of both creek tributaries a distance of approximately 2 km in Brook Creek Tributary and approximately 4 km in the Tributary of Baltimore Creek.

The MOECC investigation determined that the erosion and sediment control measures installed by the company were insufficient or inadequate to prevent the discharges from occurring.

It was also determined that the discharge that occurred April 2, 2014 was not reported by 2280577 Ontario Inc. to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre (SAC), as required by the Act.

In addition, the investigation concluded that 2280577 Ontario Inc. did not comply with the Construction Plan Report submitted in support of the REA application, and that best management practices for stormwater management, sediment and erosion control were not employed, which contravened the ministry approval.

According to the MOECC, on May 15, 2017, 2280577 Ontario Inc. was convicted of three offences, was fined $600,000 plus a victim fine surcharge of $150,000 and was given 30 days to pay the fine.

To view the original release, visit: news.ontario.ca

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Cryptosporidium parasite
The Cryptosporidium parasite can spread when people swallow something that has come into contact with the feces (poop) of a sick person, such as pool water contaminated with diarrhea. Image by CDC.

Outbreaks of a parasitic infection linked to swimming pools and water playgrounds are increasingly being reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with twice as many outbreaks in 2016 as in 2014.

At least 32 outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium (also known as “Crypto”) linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds in the United States were reported in 2016, compared with 16 outbreaks in 2014, according to preliminary data published on May 18, 2017, in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The parasite can spread when people swallow something that has come into contact with the feces of a sick person, such as pool water contaminated with diarrhea.

Cryptosporidium parasite
The Cryptosporidium parasite can spread when people swallow something that has come into contact with the feces (poop) of a sick person, such as pool water contaminated with diarrhea. Image by CDC.

In comparison, 20 Crypto outbreaks linked to swimming were reported in 2011, 16 in 2012, and 13 in 2013. The CDC said it is not clear whether the number of outbreaks has increased or whether better surveillance and laboratory methods are leading to better outbreak detection.

Crypto is the most common cause of diarrheal illness and outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds because it is not easily killed by chlorine and can survive up to 10 days in properly treated water. Swallowing just a mouthful of water contaminated with Crypto can make otherwise healthy people sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration.

According to an article by the CBC, “Cryptosporidiosis became a notifiable disease in Canada in 2000. Since then, the number of reported cases have ranged from 587 per year to more than 1,700 in 2001.”

While rare, serious outbreaks of water-borne diseases can pose a significant threat to Canadian public health, said researchers from the University of Guelph in a 2014 report. The report also said that outbreaks of the disease have been linked to “pool fouling, lack of education and training, inadequate pool structures, and lack of disinfection equipment.”

To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov

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Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi, and Nunavut Minister of Community and Government Services, Joe Savikataaq, announced over $230 million in joint funding for nine projects across 19 communities to upgrade solid waste management, and water and wastewater systems throughout the territory. The announcement was made on May 3, 2017, in Iqaluit.

The federal government said this investment will support projects such as expanding storage capacity and enhancing water treatment and distribution in Arviat, Chesterfield Inlet and Sanikiluaq.

In Kugaaruk and Kimmirut, funding will support the design and construction of upgraded wastewater infrastructure. In communities like Grise Fiord, Gjoa Haven and Igloolik, existing landfills will be upgraded to improve waste management and recycling services.

Up to $30,948,435 will be provided by the federal government through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF) and $141,574,759 through the Small Communities Fund (SCF). The Government of Nunavut will provide the remaining $57,708,587.

These projects are in addition to the CWWF projects announced in September 2016, as part of the bilateral agreement signing between Canada and Nunavut, and the SCF projects announced in February 2016 and in February 2017.

Clean Water and Wastewater Fund projects

ProjectCommunities benefitingAnticipated start date
Water infrastructure upgrades- Chesterfield Inlet*
- Arviat*
- Sanikiluaq
April 1, 2017
Portable water supply unit to help ensure drinking water security, and other support to address water quality concerns. Unit will be available to support the emergency needs of the following communities:
- Grise Fiord
- Kimmirut
- Pangnirtung
- Arctic Bay
- Cape Dorset
- Chesterfield Inlet
- Clyde River
- Gjoa Haven
- Igloolik
- Qikiqtarjuaq
- Naujaat
- Sanikiluaq
- Whale Cove
April 1, 2017
Wastewater infrastructure upgrades - Kugaaruk
- Kimmirut
April 1, 2017

* Funding for the water infrastructure upgrades in Arviat and Chesterfield Inlet was previously announced as part of the CWWF projects announced in September 2016.

Small Communities Fund projects

ProjectCommunities benefitingAnticipated start date
Upgrade water treatment plant to:
- Meet current drinking water standards;
- Provide water storage for fires and emergencies; and
- Replace the current pump house.
- Resolute BayApril 1, 2017
Upgrade wastewater system by building a sewage treatment plant that meets regulatory treatment requirements.- Resolute BayApril 1, 2019
Upgrades to existing landfills to include:
- Designated lined cell for bulky metals, hazardous waste and domestic garbage; and
- Fencing for controlled access to prevent illegal and improper dumping.
- Arviat
- Clyde River
- Grise Fiord
- Resolute Bay
February 1, 2017
- Rankin Inlet
- Kimmirut
- Gjoa Haven
- Taloyoak
April 1, 2017
- Igloolik
- Hall Beach
- Whale Cove
- Sanikiluaq
April 1, 2018
Upgrades to water and sewer distribution system to prevent line freezing and leaks. - Rankin InletMarch 1, 2017

Once complete, the federal government said these projects will improve the quality and reliability of drinking water, and better protect the environment by bringing wastewater treatment systems up to modern health and regulatory standards, and improving the capacity to manage solid waste and recyclables.

For more information, see the original release here.

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water-filter-jug
According to the report, jug filters are the most common water treatment technique. Daniel Krasoń, Adobe Stock.

According to Statistics Canada, half of Canadian households treated their drinking water in 2015. Households in Newfoundland and Labrador (65%) were most likely to treat their drinking water before using it, while Quebec households (39%) were least likely to do so.

The Statistics Canada report says the most frequent reason for treatment was to improve the taste, odour or appearance of the water (45% of households treating their water). The most common water treatment technique was the use of jug filters, which were reported by 25% of Canadian households.

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs), households in Winnipeg (73%), Barrie (68%) and Calgary (65%) were most likely to treat their water. Conversely, this was less common in the Windsor (42%), Québec (35%) and Sherbrooke (25%) CMAs.

According to Statistics Canada, specific characteristics can influence the likelihood that a household will treat its drinking water. Having a private water source rather than a municipal system as a water source is a major factor influencing the method of water treatment.

For example, 6% of households connected to a municipal system had a filter on the main supply pipe, while 37% of households with other sources of water had such a system. This difference could be attributed to uncertainty associated with the quality of water coming from a private source that hasn’t already been treated, such as water from a municipal system.

Boil water advisories

Having been under a boil water advisory within the previous 12 months had a substantial bearing on the likelihood of a household treating its water, particularly by boiling it. Statistics Canada said that, in total, approximately 10% of Canadian households indicated that they had been issued a boil water advisory in 2015. Of these households, 60% boiled their water. Other practices were also used during boil water advisories. For example, 65% of households drank bottled water and 12% filtered their water.

For more information, visit: www.statcan.gc.ca