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Infrastructure Canada report on aging and water management

In a front-page newspaper article, the Canwest News Service reports that, “Canada’s aging population will drive up infrastructure costs and threaten public health in a wide range of sectors including water management…concludes a new government report.”

The report was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in April 2008 for Infrastructure Canada and is titled ‘Population Aging and Public Infrastructure: a Literature Review of Impacts in Developing countries’.

“The analysis…warned that economic and health problems could ensue because of lower water consumption by an aging population that could lead to decreased flow and build up of solids in pipes designed for higher volumes of water…The problems could include bacteria in drinking water from systems that have been designed to accommodate growing populations and increasing demand, particularly in suburban neighbourhoods.”

THE DANGER OF PHARMACEUTICALS IN THE SYSTEM Concern was also raised about “increased use of personal care and pharmaceutical products that could be ‘persistent, cumulative and toxic’ if they are flushed down toilets.”

“But (T. Duncan Ellison, executive director of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association) said the report was alarmist and didn’t provide a reasonable analysis of the situation.” Ellison says, “I see (the warnings from the report) more as a potential problem rather than a real one unless you are talking about shutting down industrial water demand.”

“He said Canadian cities are all trying to find ways to reduce water consumption because of population growth, and that modernizing the facilities would also enable them to compensate for reduced flows in some suburban areas through cross-connections between lines.”

MORE ADVANCED WASTE WATER TREATMENT ALSO NEEDED The government report suggests, “the need for more advanced waste water treatment systems” to address the pharmaceuticals flushed into the system.

These are issues (and answers) that the Council of Canadians will keep in mind as we collect information for the 2010 edition of the Alternative Federal Budget.

To read the chapter on a national water policy in the 2009 AFB by Council of Canadians water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and CUPE researcher Corina Crawley, please go to

The full Canwest News Service article is at