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Water & Wastewater

A report from The Fraser Institute (Water and Wastewater Treatment in Canada, 2007) stated:

Canada’s water and wastewater utilities are facing severe challenges. Hun- dreds of systems threaten human health and the environment. Boil-water advisories are common in small communities. Wastewater treatment is fre- quently substandard. e federal government has identi ed wastewater ef- uents as one of the largest threats to the quality of Canadian waters.

The failures of water and wastewater utilities result from several factors. Many systems are old, nearing the end of their useful lives. Many are too small, unable to meet the needs of growing populations. 


The private sector can provide desperately needed capital.


As much as $90 billion in investment may be required to maintain, refurbish, and expand water and wastewater infrastructure in the coming decades.


Private capital can help meet those needs. It offers several advantages over public capital: it frees up public funds for other purposes; its use transfers nancial risks from the public to the private sector; and it is likely to be used more e ciently than public capital. 


Problems with drinking water are particularly severe in aboriginal communities, 85 of which were under drinking-water advisories in October 2006 (Health Canada, 2006). Indian and Northern A airs Canada (INAC) reported in 2003 that 30% of the 740 community water systems it assessed failed to meet federal Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, and that 39% exceeded aesthetic objectives, such as those for iron, sodium, or turbidity. It determined that 29% of the systems posed high risks and that an- other 46% posed medium risks. INAC also assessed 462 wastewater systems, nding that 22% failed to meet Canadian Guidelines for E uent Quality and Wastewater Treatment at Federal Establishments. It classi ed 16% of the systems as high risk and 44% as medium risk (Indian and Northern A airs Canada, 2003: 17–20).


Inadequate wastewater treatment is also common in non-native communities. e Treasury Board has called municipal wastewater effluents “one of the largest threats to the quality of Canadian waters” (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 2004). The warning echoed one issued by Environment Canada. Based on a 1999 survey of 1,285 municipalities with a total population of 25.4 million people, Environment Canada determined that almost 47% of municipal wastewater in Atlantic Canada was discharged into receiving waters without any treatment. On the Pacific coast, almost 85% of municipal wastewater was discharged after receiving only primary treatment or, in some cases, after merely being screened (Environment Canada, 2003). The untreated or inadequately treated sewage threatens not only the environment but also human health, shellfish harvesting, recreation, and tourism, with attendant economic costs (Environment Canada, 2001). 

A presentation made at the Infrastructure Financing Development & Renewal in Canada, organized by The Canadian Institute, stated that while Canada has 20 percent of the World's fresh water within its boundaries many Canadians take our abundant supply of water for granted.

A US Congressional Research Service report ("Energy-Water Nexus:
The Water Sector’s Energy Use", January 24, 2017) stated:

Energy consumption by public drinking water and wastewater utilities, which are primarily owned and operated by local governments, can represent 30%-40% of a municipality’s energy bill.


Opportunities for efficiency exist in several categories, such as upgrading to more efficient equipment, improving energy management, and generating energy on-site to offset purchased electricity.  

Water and wastewater investments can take a variety of forms including new build plants, plant refurbishments and upgrades.

Canadian Green fund believes that there are significant investment opportunities to assist in accelerating the upgrade of water and wastewater treatment projects across Canada.

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