The Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) is the THE national voice of water and wastewater utilities and their public sector partners across Canada. CWWA provides leadership and a voice for this important sector– advocating for better federal legislation, programs and initiatives that make sense for Canada’s water and wastewater utilities.
Water and wastewater utilities provide an invaluable public service – protecting both human and environmental health through the provision of clean, safe drinking water, and the treatment of industrial and sanitary waste. The chlorination of drinking water is one of the greatest advances in public health – reducing the mass outbreaks of waterborne diseases like typhoid that were common in the early 1900s. While drinking water treatment has advanced well beyond chlorination, it remains a cornerstone of healthy urban environments. Effective wastewater treatment is an equally important piece of the puzzle – keeping our waterways clean and stopping the spread of disease.
Many Canadians are unaware of the importance of these services and the amount of expertise, money and effort that goes into keeping taps flowing and toilets flushing. Most water utilities in Canada are owned and operated by municipal governments and our members have done a phenomenal job serving their communities with very limited budgets.
While these systems are regulated primarily by their respective provincial governments, many federal laws and programs create requirements that directly or indirectly impact their operations. Therefore, it’s important to have a strong voice advocating on their behalf.
CWWA works collaboratively with the federal government, advancing projects and initiatives of importance to our members. For example, with the cooperation of our members, we were able to produce detailed comments on the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, which resulted in meaningful improvements to the way the federal government will regulate wastewater systems.
One of the most valuable benefits of CWWA membership is to participate in national dialogue on the key challenges facing our members. Whether it’s through attendance at one of our events, staying informed through our publications or participation in one of our technical committees, CWWA members benefit from our unparalleled network to engage experts from across the country. The Association maintains several technical committees, to form a network of experts to tackle issues of national and local importance and provide CWWA with technical expertise when required.
Through our links with Health Canada, our members remain active and up to date on the activities of the Canadian Drinking Water Committee (CDW), the national body that produces the Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality – the backbone of all provincial drinking water quality requirements. Our members are able to provide input into the recommendations of this group – remaining informed and able to influence these activities.
CWWA was instrumental in getting water and wastewater services recognized as a critical infrastructure – allowing representation at the National Cross Sector Forum – a joint endeavor between all critical infrastructure sectors to prepare for natural or manmade disasters. We continue to advocate for resources and education on emergency preparedness and cooperation between all critical infrastructure sectors. The Association continues to host a popular series of Workshops addressing water utility security with a focus on cyber-security at the upcoming 2013 event. Our newest Committee is exploring the challenges of climate change for water and wastewater utilities and is working at raising awareness of the potential threats to these systems posed by our changing climate – including increased storm events, unpredictable precipitation patterns, flooding and drought. In cooperation with Health Canada, the Association conducted a national survey to assess the preparedness of water and wastewater utilities for these challenges and will continue to raise awareness and develop tools and resources to ensure that utilities are prepared to adapt.
CWWA is recognized internationally as well. Through relationships and partnerships with other Associations, such as the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Water Association (IWA) , we stay connected to global water issues and provide members with the benefit of experiences from other parts of the world. Through our relationship with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade we support Canadian businesses on an international stage and keep our private sector members informed of international business programs and opportunities.
CWWA hosts several national events which bring together professionals in water and wastewater treatment - managers and operators, private sector partners and regulators. The Association’s core event – which incorporates our Annual General Meeting and annual Utility Excellence Awards – is the Window on Ottawa. This event focuses on federal legislation and programs, and features presentations from senior government officials and other national organizations.
The Association also hosts the National Drinking Water Conference in cooperation with the Canadian Committee on Drinking Water, and a National Wastewater Management Conference with the Canadian Association for Water Quality.
In October 2013, CWWA is hosting a new event – the Canadian Energy and Water Efficiency Conference. This Conference, a first for utilities in Canada, will look at that critical inter-relationship between water use and energy consumption. And will give delegates the tools to develop water and energy efficiency programs to evaluate the impact of these programs and to increase awareness of these efforts.