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Clean Water

The Issue

Clean Water

Canadians expect their tap water to be safe to drink. That's why Canada's municipalities worked with the federal government to develop new federal wastewater regulations. But improving national standards now requires significant investments in wastewater facility upgrades-more than $18 billion worth, by conservative estimates. These new capital expenditures are a particular challenge for smaller municipalities.

Local governments own, operate and maintain most of Canada's 3,500 wastewater treatment systems; using world-class technology to safeguard public health and keep our rivers, lakes and coastlines clean.

Budget 2016 commits the federal government as a strong partner, with the creation of the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, which, commits $2 billion over four years to water, wastewater and storm water system improvements.

Working in partnership with the municipal sector, the federal government must:

  • Deliver the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund in a way that meets municipal needs and supports local priorities.
  • Prioritize upgrades to wastewater facilities deemed high-risk by Environment Canada.
  • Provide timely information regarding compliance and enforcement as municipalities work to make necessary wastewater upgrades within the deadlines of new federal regulations.
  • Create a plan to assist residents in rural communities upgrade defective septic systems in areas not serviced by municipal wastewater treatment facilities.


FCM Resources


Quick Facts


The number of wastewater treatment systems in Canada-most of which municipalities own, operate and maintain.

Source: Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent, 2009.


The number of municipal wastewater treatment facilities affected by the new federal wastewater systems effluent regulations.

Source: Environment Canada.

$18 billion

The cost of upgrading wastewater treatment facilities to meet new federal regulations. $3.5 billion of that will be incurred by 2020.

Source: FCM estimate based on municipal cost estimates.
Page Updated: 06/06/2018