Ground Water Canada

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Cross-Canada update: Part 2

What’s new with water issues, programs and regulations in each province and territory.

April 12, 2013  By TREENA HEIN

In the last issue, we covered happenings in Western Canada and Central Canada.

In the last issue, we covered happenings in Western Canada and Central
Canada. Read on for what’s new in the Maritimes and the North.

Nova Scotia
The province’s Water for Life strategy was published in 2010 under the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. It provides a road map for water management in Nova Scotia over the next 10 years and beyond. The strategy resulted from three years of research, analysis and consultation with all levels of government, business and the public. It calls for enhancing the communication system for receiving and sharing water quality and quantity information with government and the public; building, supporting and integrating existing water-monitoring networks to bolster baseline data and assessment tools, and to identify stresses on quality and quantity; identification of ecologically significant water resources, such as wetlands and critical groundwater recharge areas; engagement with post-secondary institutions, industry, and communities in order to improve knowledge about water-related issues across the province; and, determination of possible impacts of climate change on Nova Scotia’s water cycle.


As part of the strategy, the Nova Scotia Watershed Assessment Program is underway, a joint initiative involving the Dalhousie University Hydrologic Systems Research Group and Nova Scotia Environment. The team has gathered data, constructed a geodatabase, created watershed models, and produced a series of maps. Watershed report cards and a public geodatabase will be available by early 2013.

New Brunswick
In May 2012, amendments to the province’s Clean Environment Act have meant water and waste water commissions are subject to greater accountability and strengthened governance rules. New measures include setting term limits for water commission members, allowing municipal and rural community councils to appoint their own members, requiring commissions to submit annual budgets, financial statements and reports to communities and the Minister, requiring commissions to conduct annual general meetings open to the public, and authorizing the Commissioner of Municipal Affairs to direct a financial audit of a commission.

Prince Edward island
In August 2011, Prince Edward Island released the Annual Report of the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry for the preceding fiscal year. It covers wetland restoration and development of watershed protection plans, free clinics to test nitrates levels in well water and new rules to prohibit the spreading of untreated septage on land.

In January 2012, the main report of the project entitled Study on Water Quality and Demand on Public Water Supplies with Variable Flow Regimes and Water Demand was released. The study sought to determine the effects of variable water demands on water quality and use in a selection of communities that supply industrial, residential, commercial, and institutional water users. The study team assessed the design and operation of the water supply systems in light of historical water use records and water quality records.

In March 2012, the province also released its Study on Identification and Characteristics of Sewer Overflows in NFLD and LB, which identifies and characterizes both combined and sanitary sewer overflows from public wastewater collection systems throughout the province.

Two other recent reports released in September 2011 include a study on pathogen inactivation in drinking water systems (an assessment of the current drinking water disinfection standards and guidelines used in the province), and a study on organic matter in drinking water.

Northwest Territories
In 2011, the Northwest Territories government released NWT Water Stewardship: A Plan for Action (2011-2015). It describes actions that put into motion the vision of the Northern Voices, Northern Waters: NWT Water Stewardship Strategy, developed by all water use partners in the jurisdiction.

The plan lays out a partnership approach to improve and enhance water stewardship at all levels of government, designates lead water partners and provides deliverable dates for each action item.

The plan is intended to be a living document, which is subject to ongoing reviews and audits to ensure its implementation continues to advance the intent of the strategy. Annual status updates will be published to track and report on plan’s progress, and subsequent action plans will outline activities beyond 2015.

A status update in 2012 reported that the goal of having water partners identified was complete. They have begun to share and examine existing policies, frameworks, procedures, regional land use plans, interim measures agreements and other agreements related to the strategy. In September 2012, an update stated that descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of water partners had been developed and were being shared.

Almost all drinking water in the Yukon comes from ground water, and there are six government branches that handle water matters in this territory. These government agencies are now putting the finishing touches on a draft Yukon Water Strategy. It will be released to the public in early 2013 and input will start being collected at that time, says Heather Girousek, a policy analyst with the Water Resources Branch of Yukon Environment.

During fall 2012, the Government of Nunavut invited nominations for appointment to the Nunavut Water Board (NWB), which was created in 1996 to regulate the use and management of water in the territory, except in the national parks. The powers and responsibilities of the NWB were further defined by the Nunavut Waters and Surface Rights Tribunal Act 2002. NWB can issue, renew, amend and cancel a water licence but has no enforcement powers.

“We had eight applicants for the board appointment ad,” says Jacquie Pepper-Journal, manager of communications, education and outreach at Nunavut’s Department of Environment. The successful applicant began a three-year term in mid-December.

There is no shortage of water talk across the Canadian landscape. Stay tuned to Ground Water Canada to find out what’s happening in your home province and beyond.

Treena Hein is a science writer based in Ontario.

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