Municipal wastewater impacts

The Impacts of Municipal Wastewater Effluents on Canadian Waters: A Review

(Water Quality Research Journal of Canada 1997, Volume 32, no. 4, pg. 659-713)

P.A. Chambers1, M.Allard2, S.L. Walker3, J.    Marsalek2, J. Lawrence2, M. Servos2, J. Busnarda 3,K.S. Munger3, K. Adare3, C. Jefferson3, R.A. Kent3 and M.P. Wong3

1National Hydrology Research Institute, Environment Canada, 11 Innovation Blvd., Saskatoon, SK S7N 3H5

2National Water Research Institute, Environment Canada, 867 Lakeshore Road, P.O. Box 5050, Burlington, ON L7R 4A6

3Science Policy and Environmental Quality Branch, Environment Canada, 351 St. Joseph Boulevard, Hull, QC K1A 0H3

 Keywords: sewage, stormwater, lakes, rivers, oceans, Canada


Domestic sewage is a major threat to receiving waters throughout the world. In Canada, a high proportion of the population (81%) is served by municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Nevertheless, discharges from wastewater treatment plants, stormwater sewers and combined sewers have caused some adverse impacts on lakes, rivers and coastal waters. The most publicly recognized impacts are shellfish harvesting restrictions and beach closures resulting from microbial contamination. Habitat degradation and contamination also occur and these, in turn, have altered the abundance and diversity of aquatic organisms. Our findings on the effects of municipal wastewater discharge suggest that there is a need to review sewage treatment requirements in Canada. Further research is also required on the interactive and cumulative responses to habitat degradation and to long-term exposure to persistent and bioaccumulative pollutants. Finally, an integrated approach to wastewater management is needed that addresses loadings from treatment plants, stormwater sewers, CSOs and other wastewater sources.

This document can be cited as follows:

Chambers P.A., M.Allard, S.L. Walker, J. Marsalek, J. Lawrence, M. Servos, J. Busnarda, K.S. Munger, K. Adare, C. Jefferson, R.A. Kent and M.P. Wong. 1997. The impacts of municipal wastewater effluents on Canadian waters: a review. Water Quality Research Journal of Canada 32: 659-71. 

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