National funding plan needed to meet new federal wastewater regulations (18/07/2012)
OTTAWA - Meeting the new federal wastewater regulations announced today is an important national project that requires a national funding plan supported by all orders of government, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
"The federal government reached out and worked with our communities when it wrote these regulations, and now it needs to keep working with our communities to make sure we can pay for them," said FCM president Karen Leibovici. "We need a national funding plan so we can protect the environment and municipal property taxpayers."
The final regulations are the product of collaboration among all orders of government. During the past two years, Environment Canada officials ramped-up outreach to provincial, territorial, and municipal partners to jointly address questions and concerns. The final product will help protect Canada's rivers, lakes and oceans with a workable set of rules for the country's more than 3,500 wastewater treatment systems.
Municipalities have said that funding for the new regulations must be added to the federal governments new Long-Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP) to pay for the once-in-a generation costs of meeting the new requirements. The new costs are above and beyond what municipalities already need to maintain and expand core infrastructure. Municipalities are responsible for over 50% of the country's infrastructure, but collect just 8 cents of every tax-dollar paid in Canada. The LTIP is being developed by Infrastructure Canada and will be in place before current federal funding programs expire in 2014.
Over the next three decades, the regulations will require communities to rebuild or replace more than one out of every four wastewater treatment systems across the country. Many municipalities, particularly in small communities, will require federal assistance to develop and enact these mandatory regulations. Upgrading wastewater treatment plants is expected to cost at least $20 Billion, which does not include system-wide upgrades required to meet the regulations.
"The new Long-term Infrastructure Plan gives governments the chance to work out exactly what the regulations will cost and how to pay for them" said President Leibovici. "At the same time, the regulations give us a new model for taking stock of other infrastructure needs and setting clear goals to meet them, whether it's roads, bridges, drinking water or public transit."