There was a lot of change, to say the least, in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, important work continued in the water industry. Water utilities continued to provide safe drinking water. All levels of government made investments to protect communities from flooding. Research was undertaken to better understand the impacts of plastic pollution. We could provide a whole list but instead, we took some time to highlight what we thought were some of the most important news stories published by Water Canada in 2020.

The good

  • Existing plans and processes helped ensure that utilities could continue to provide safe drinking water to residents and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Tests to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in wastewater emerged as a way to help communities prepare for potential surges in the number of COVID-19 cases.
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government, along with provincial and territorial governments, made infrastructure investments to stimulate the economy. Many communities received funding for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.
  • The federal government committed $1.5 billion for work that will lift all long-term drinking water advisories on reserves. It also allocated additional funding for: operations and maintenance, responding to project delays that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and preventing future drinking water advisories from occurring.

The bad

  • The federal government is not expected to meet its March 2021 target for lifting drinking water advisories in First Nations communities.
  • The Ontario government passed Bill 229—Protect, Support, and Recover from COVID 19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020—with Schedule 6 intact. From the perspective of the environmental sector, Schedule 6 is expected to have a negative impact on the ability of conservation authorities to protect people and properties from natural hazards, such as flooding.

Water Canada’s assessment for 2020

After reviewing the news stories published by Water Canada in 2020, we compiled the top five stories for six categories:

In compiling these lists, we considered the most read stories in 2020. The lists also include stories we think will continue to have an impact in the years to come. If anything has been missed anything in these lists, please email Simran Chattha, associate editor of Water Canada, at simran@actualmedia.ca.

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