wastewater infrastructure
Wastewater infrastructure collage. (From left to right) City of Saskatoon; City of Calgary; City of Montreal; City of St. John’s; Municipality of Halton; City of Toronto; City of Regina; Township of Esquimalt; City of Winnipeg.

Statistics Canada has released its latest survey data relating to wastewater infrastructure across the country.

The 2016 data, released last week, covers categories that include levels of municipal ownership, and how many municipalities have asset management plans. It details the amount of Canada’s wastewater infrastructure, as well as respective age and condition.

Canada’s wastewater infrastructure asset numbers 

  • 1,259 wastewater treatment facilities
  • 1,244 lagoon systems
  • 6,104 wastewater pump stations
  • 4,762 wastewater lift stations
  • 685 wastewater storage tanks

Additionally, there are 142,878 kilometres of sewer pipes, enough to cross Canada 15 times at its widest point. 80.6% of these have a diameter smaller than 450 millimetres. There are also 8,616 kilometres of sanitary forcemains belonging to municipal and regional governments.

Wastewater Asset Ownership

Municipalities owned more than 80% of all types of wastewater assets. Urban municipalities owned the majority of wastewater pump stations (70.6%) and wastewater lift stations (54.1%), while these same municipalities accounted for smaller shares of wastewater treatment plants (45.9%), wastewater storage tanks (34.9%), and lagoon systems (29.1%).

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Urban municipalities also owned more than four-fifths of almost every type of municipally-owned sewer pipe, as well as over two-thirds (68.8%) of municipally-owned sanitary forcemains.

Asset Management Plans 

  • 38.3% of Canadian wastewater asset owners had asset plans in 2016
  • 48.2% of owners without plans expected to have one within four years
  • 80.1% of owners in Ontario had a wastewater asset management plan
  • 23% of owners that have a plan update it every year
  • 31% update their plan every two to four years
  • 37.5% update their plan every five years or more. 

Wastewater assets built after 1999 

  • 42.8% of wastewater storage tanks
  • 37.7% of wastewater treatment plants
  • 36.8% of wastewater lift stations
  • 28.7% of wastewater pump stations
  • 25.8% of lagoon systems
  • 43.8% of sanitary forcemains

Each category underwent the most growth between 1970 and 1999.

Wastewater infrastructure condition & lifespan

According to the owners of the assets, 83.5% of wastewater storage tanks were most frequently reported to be in good or very good physical condition. Less than 15% of each asset type were reported to be in poor or very poor condition.

Among the provinces and territories, 93.8% of wastewater treatment plants in Prince Edward Island were reported to be in good or very good condition, while 21.5% of wastewater treatment plants in Alberta were reported to be in poor or very poor condition. Meanwhile, 96.5% of wastewater pump stations in Prince Edward Island were reported to be in good or very good condition, while 13.7% of wastewater pump stations in Ontario were reported to be in poor or very poor condition.

Among non-linear wastewater infrastructure assets built in 2016, wastewater pump stations had the longest average expected useful life (42 years), while the other types were expected to last from 27 years to 31 years on average, depending on the asset type.


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