When experts spoke about new federal regulations regarding wastewater management during the recent annual general meeting of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, one thing was abundantly clear: many of the community leaders in this province don’t have a clue as to how to comply with the new rules, let alone figure out a way to pay for it all.
Billions of dollars it will cost, the experts said. Years to get things ready, they told the crowd. A lot of work, but work that must be done. There simply will be no choice. Compliance will be mandatory.
Following their presentations, the experts, one from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, another from the provincial Department of Municipal Affairs, listened to delegate after delegate suggest not only do they not know how to comply nor how to come up with the cash to cover the cost of system changes and upgrades, but that they, despite years of dedication to their communities, may not stick around to help make the new rules a reality.
It may seem, for some, a job too complicated to be tackled by what are, for all intents and purposes, community volunteers. That may or may not be the case, but what is not in dispute is no matter who’s going to take this on, work needs to begin sooner than later.
For certain, it may offer a small amount of comfort to some municipalities to realize they have anywhere from 10 to 30 years to comply, depending on a number of factors such as the size of a community and the current infrastructure, or lack thereof, in place.
But sitting back and taking a deep breath based only on the thought they may have three decades within which to be ready to go is not the best approach.
Consider what happened in many communities around this province when it came to the new provincial regulations regarding waste management. For years, municipalities kept hearing from the province the rules were going to change. No longer would individual communities be allowed to maintain landfill sites for residential and commercial waste. Facilities such as the Central Newfoundland Waste Management (CNWM) operation in Norris Arm would be established in the province, and in time, landfill sites would be shut down and all waste trucked to these so-called super dumps.