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Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador to give input on wastewater regulations

MNL president Sheila Fitzgerald. -CONTRIBUTED FILE PHOTO
MNL president Sheila Fitzgerald. -CONTRIBUTED FILE PHOTO

Fitzgerald calls it ‘step in the right direction’

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) will get a chance to provide input on changes to federal wastewater regulations, according to an MNL news release on Monday.

“Our members were clear last year that compliance with the regulations was important but practically impossible. They needed more time, and money,” MNL president Sheila Fitzgerald was quoted in the news release.

The Wastewater System Effluent Regulations came into effect in 2012 under the Fisheries Act, and by 2015 all communities collecting 100 cubic metres or more of influent, and releasing effluent into water frequented by fish, were subject to the regulations.

Eligible communities could apply for transitional authorizations — permission to release effluent not meeting the limits — as they planned their treatment systems to meet the standards. But only three municipalities in the province received this authorization.

At an emergency meeting last September, MNL met with federal and provincial politicians, as well as more than 100 of its own members, to discuss the wastewater regulations. One of the requests was for a reopening of transitional authorizations so municipalities could reach compliance under the regulations.

In June, Environment and Climate Change Canada indicated it is developing regulatory amendments related to transitional authorizations.

The proposed amendments would give communities a new opportunity to receive a transitional authorization to the end of 2030 or 2040, provided they meet the conditions of the regulations.

“Reopening the regulations to address transitional authorizations is a step in the right direction. We look forward to working with our provincial and federal colleagues on the consultation process and next steps,” said Fitzgerald.

The regulations consultation process is open to comments until March 31.

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