House of commons committee on natural resources


The Canadian Water and Wastewater Association represents the interests of municipal water and wastewater services in respect of federal or national legislation, policies and programs. More than 24 million Canadians receive drinking water from municipal services and discharge wastewater to those services. The services are provided on a not-for-profit, public service basis. Revenues derived from these services are in most instances, intended to fully pay and maintain the service and the infrastructure however, there has developed an infrastructure gap. Although these services are subject primarily to Provincial or Territorial legislation, there are a number of federal statutes which affect their operations.


Energy management is a pan-Canadian, all stakeholder concern. Municipal water and wastewater services throughout the country are cognizant of the need to reduce their use of energy, in particular electrical energy, in their treatment and distribution and collection services. Water and wastewater services combined are typically the biggest single consumer of electrical energy within the total of all municipal operations and services. Efforts are being made to reduce electrical energy demand in two manners: introducing energy efficiency programs and introducing energy recovery or renewable energy programs.

There are barriers to introducing these programs. Some are financial (e.g., a lack of funds to replace capital equipment and infrastructure) and others maybe regulatory or public perception (e.g., prohibition of incinerators for energy recovery).

The following provides the Committee with information on opportunities that are known to exist in parts of Canada or from other countries that could be promoted to, and potentially applied in all municipal operations if the financial and other barriers could be reduced or removed.

Energy Efficiency Programs

The most significant use of electrical energy in water and wastewater systems is the energy consumed in pumping water through the distribution system to storage tanks or directly to customers, or in pumping systems associated with wastewater collection systems (not all of which are gravity fed).

The installation of modern “energy-efficient” pumps is impeded by the availability of funds to do so and the fact that the existing pumps may still have a long operating “technical” life before them. As pumps are replaced on a life-cycle sustainability cycle, they will eventually be replaced; however it is possible to accelerate this rate of replacement. Other countries have provided financial incentives (e.g., accelerated depreciation allowances or reduction in applicable sales taxes) to hasten the replacement of aging pumps and other energy-based equipment. Some of these incentives work best in a private sector environment (which is not the case in Canada) but can work in a public sector “utility-based environment” where the utility is expected to operate on a full-cost recovery basis.

Renewable or Recoverable Energy Programs

Water and Waste Water infrastructure often offers great opportunities for renewable energy generation or energy recovery. Some of the necessary infrastructure is often already in place and expensive civil construction is not necessarily required. In addition, water treatment plants and wastewater water treatment plants tend to be near or within the communities which they serve. This is an advantage as any associated renewable energy can be fed directly into the community power grid, if it is not used on-site to replace otherwise off-site sourced energy. This proximity advantage is often not the case with other renewable technologies such as hydro or wind.

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