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Water infrastructure spending, construction on the rise, says StatCan

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Despite the capital expenditures increase, the StatCan survey states that “these investments have not kept up with the deterioration of existing assets as the remaining useful life of water and sewage infrastructure assets declined from 2017 to 2021.” Photo credit: desertsands stock.adobe.com

New Statistics Canada data for 2020 shows that capital expenditures and the pace of construction for water infrastructure has accelerated in recent years.

According to the Annual Capital and Repair Expenditures Survey, 28% of total capital spending on infrastructure by municipal, local and regional governments in 2020 was on water and sewer infrastructure.

Additionally, the StatCan data shows that the pace of construction continues to increase, with an average of 10,069 kilometres of underground pipe installed per year in 2019 and 2020, compared with around 6,844 kilometres per year from 2000 to 2018.

Despite the capital expenditures increase, the StatCan survey states that “these investments have not kept up with the deterioration of existing assets as the remaining useful life of water and sewage infrastructure assets declined from 2017 to 2021.” The report added that nearly one in five kilometres of water, sewer and stormwater pipes (86,533 kilometres out of 472,488) was reaching the end of its useful life in 2020, having been built prior to 1970. The average expected useful life of new underground pipes installed in 2020 ranged from 50 to 73 years.

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In 2020, Canada’s water infrastructure included:

  • 4,126 wastewater treatment plants and lagoon systems;
  • 3,342 water treatment facilities;
  • 472,488 km of underground pipes;
  • 284,827 km of culverts and open ditches.

Stormwater management facilities such as ponds, wetlands and infiltration basins had the largest share (43%) of total inventory built since 2010.

Asset management plans are increasing in more Canadian municipalities, the report found. In 2020, there was an almost 10% increase over 2018 in the share of organizations that owned water infrastructure and had an asset management plan. At least four out of five urban municipalities with 30,000 or more residents had an asset management plan for their water infrastructure in 2020, compared with just over two-thirds in 2018.

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