Canadian municipalities are dumping an estimated 400 billion gallons of raw sewage every year. Quebec is the worst offender—leading all other provinces in their failure to meet federal water safety regulations, according to documents obtained through an access to information request by news outlet Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Department of the Environment stated that of the 3.4 billion cubic metres flushed per year across Canada, 374 billion gallons went untreated and did not meet the limits. The department’s researchers also predict the actual discharges are likely much higher.
“These volumes do not include releases from combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows or any other discharges occurring at a point other than the final discharge point,” staff from the department wrote.
The research involved looking at 1,737 sewage plants across Canada.
In 2012, the Harper government attempted to tackle sewage dumping, however, it was largely viewed as ineffective. So far, eighty-five lethal waste discharges have occurred in 2016: 42 in Quebec; twelve in Ontario; and nine in Alberta. These have often resulted in the fish-killing sewage being leaked into Canada’s waterways.
In late 2015, the federal government waived penalties against Montreal for releasing eight billion litres of sewage into the St. Lawrence River, with then-Environment Minister Catherine McKenna approving the dump under several conditions.