WOW! What a Series!

by Nov 13, 2020

The Water Haller –October 2020

We just finished part 4 of the Window on Water (WoW) series and we couldn’t be happier.  Each session was well-received and reached out to many more delegates than our annual Window on Ottawa.  Our live Window event was a very unique opportunity to engage with senior federal policy makers and had become CWWA’s ‘signature’ event for almost 30 years.  Our mission is to engage the federal government and to advocate for good national policies

Even before this COVID pandemic hit, we were discussing the idea of taking this event virtual. We used to get 100-150 delegates in a room for 2 days where they heard federal presentations on 12 different topics.  I can’t tell you how hard it could be to line up speakers from 12 federal departments to all present within the same two days!  Meanwhile, a delegate might be lucky if they were interested in 3 to 4 of those topics.  But in a virtual format, spread over 4 months, we could schedule our speakers better and expand the conversations.  Then we could market each session to a wider, but more targeted audience that we strongly felt ‘should’ be hearing this information.   

Well, we managed to get almost 200 delegates attending each of the 4 sessions, and, for the most part, each session attracted a different audience of specialists.  So I believe we achieved our mission!

In addition to thanking our CWWA team of Adrian and Kara, we must give many, many thanks to the team at Water Canada magazine for their partnership on this series. We have already agreed to partner with them again next June to co-host a joint Window on Ottawa and Canada Water Summit.  We ‘hope’ we can meet live again, but either way, it will have to be a hybrid as we have a new appreciation for the powers of online communications.

So what did we learn in 4 sessions?

Our Opening session in July we heard from Public Safety Canada about cybersecurity and critical infrastructure initiatives.  We then shared Pandemic Action Plans and recommendations from our Security and Emergency Management Committee leaders.   

For round 2 in August, Health Canada staff provided their annual review schedule of the Canada Drinking Water Guidelines.  They noted the completion of their reviews of E.coli, Aluminum and Boron, while they continue public consultation on Metribuzin, Diquat, Recreational Water Quality and the Monitoring of Microbial Water Quality in Distribution systems.  We then had a discussion around Lead and Legionella, what are the municipal utilities responsibilities and what more can we do.

Session 3 in September focused on infrastructure with presentations from Infrastructure Canada, the Canada Infrastructure Bank and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, all outlining programs available to utilities.  This lead into a discussion of utility challenges, infrastructure and sustainability.

The final session in October welcomed presentations from policy makers at Environment and Climate Change Canada.  While they are not launching a full out ‘review’ of the WSER, ECCC did announce a number of administrative amendments they are proposing. One major amendment allowed for an extended round of offering Transitional Authority Agreements with communities.  This is to address some 230 wastewater systems in 130 communities across Canada that did not apply for this authority back in 2014.  These communities will need to start monitoring their effluent and reporting to the ECCC to be in compliance.  They will then be prioritized to either the 2030 or 2040 deadlines, unless a more urgent concern is identified.  Two other proposed amendments address temporary authority for un-ionized ammonia and for by-passes during planned construction or infrastructure work. You are encouraged to review and comment on these amendments on the ECCC’s consultation site. We also heard presentations on work on Emerging Contaminants and research in small and northern communities.  Our Wastewater Committee Chair then shared the comments CWWA has been making as part of a review of a the National Plumbing Code.

Our mission of facilitating national information-sharing continues as we launch the National Water & Wastewater Conference (NWWC) as another webinar series from November through February.