The Role of Property Rights in Protecting Water Quality (Revisited)

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A new book on water management features a chapter by Elizabeth Brubaker on the role of property rights in protecting water quality. L’eau entre réglementation et marché, published in France, looks at innovative approaches to managing water quantity and quality and explores market mechanisms that may be more effective and less costly than traditional regulations. Continue reading

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Water Quality Trading in Ontario

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This paper, by Richard McNeil, explores Water Quality Trading (WQT) as a complement to the traditional regulatory approach to reducing water pollution. It examines the theory behind WQT, reviews common practices where trading has been introduced, and identifies principles for effective programs. It presents two Ontario case studies: the South Nation River watershed, where WQT has been a success, and the Lake Simcoe watershed, where WQT is currently being considered. Continue reading

Holding Frackers Accountable for Groundwater Pollution: An Analysis of Canada’s Liability Regimes for Hydraulic Fracturing

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This paper, by Adam Shedletzky, focuses on the legal provisions governing groundwater pollution due to fracking for shale gas. It examines the liability regimes (statutory and common-law) in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. It concludes with recommendations for strengthening the regulatory regime to enhance frackers’ incentives to take care and to ensure that those who are adversely affected by fracking can be “made whole.” Continue reading

Debunking the myth of public-sector accountability

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Those who advocate purely public water and sewage utilities warn that private financing and operation impede transparency, diminish accountability, and undermine government regulation. They have it backwards: Public utilities have repeatedly shown themselves to be un-transparent and un-accountable. Continue reading

Shale Gas in Canada: An Overview

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In this overview of shale gas in Canada, Manish Oza addresses basic questions about the location and volume of the resource, the environmental concerns associated with its extraction, and the regulatory regimes governing the industry. The paper is intended not to provide the last word on these issues but to help inform the still-early stages of the public policy discussion across the country. Continue reading

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters: Alternative Financing and Delivery of Water and Wastewater Services

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In this Commentary, published by the C.D. Howe Institute, Elizabeth Brubaker writes that drinking water and sewage systems across Canada threaten public health and the environment. Municipalities lack the resources to correct utility failings. Private water and wastewater services providers are well positioned to help municipalities with needed capital and expertise. Engaged through competitive contracting and governed by performance-based contracts, private providers have incentives to find efficiencies and perform well. Continue reading

Ontario’s Water Opportunities Act: A Missed Opportunity to Price Water Responsibly

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The Ontario government has introduced legislation to conserve water resources, sustain municipal water infrastructure, and support Ontario’s water industry. In its submission on the proposed act, Environment Probe points out that it overlooks the role that pricing must play in achieving all three goals. The proposed act will be inefficient, ineffective, and even counter-productive. Its provisions are weaker than those in legislation that was passed in 2002 – legislation that has not yet come into force, since successive governments have refused to proclaim it.

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Wastewater System Effluent Regulations: Will They Help or Harm the Environment?

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Environment Probe’s submission to Environment Canada concerning the federal government’s proposal to regulate wastewater under the Fisheries Act. Probe raises four concerns about the proposed regulations: They will relax existing standards; they will dis-empower the public; they will allow some municipalities to pollute for another 30 years; and there is no guarantee that they will be enforced.

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Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario’s Water Resources: Will the Province’s Proposals Achieve Its Goals?

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Environment Probe’s comments on Stewardship, Leadership, Accountability: Safeguarding and Sustaining Ontario’s Water Resources for Future Generations, a Proposal Paper presented by Ontario Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen and Ontario Minister of Natural Resources Donna Cansfield.

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Water and Wastewater Treatment in Canada: Tapping into Private-Sector Capital, Expertise, and Efficiencies

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This chapter from A Breath of Fresh Air: Market Solutions for Improving Canada’s Environment reviews the challenges faced by Canada’s water and wastewater utilities and proposes private investment, private operations, and better accountability mechanisms, including enforceable contracts and more effective regulation of utility performance. It also recommends a federal role in facilitating private-sector involvement.

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Creating Viable Water Systems: Emerging Best Practices in Governance

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Prepared for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. This report examines reforms to the governance of municipal water systems in Ontario, considers factors determining their success or failure, identifies emerging solutions to lingering problems, and draws lessons that may help solve some of the problems plaguing aboriginal water systems.

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Revisiting Water and Wastewater Utility Privatization

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Prepared for the Government of Ontario Panel on the Role of Government. This paper reviews recent setbacks for privatization and explores the reasons behind Canadian municipalities’ reluctance to contract out operations of their water and wastewater utilities.

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Liquid Assets: Privatizing and Regulating Canada’s Water Utilities

By Elizabeth Brubaker

This book argues that public provision of water and wastewater services has not served Canadians well. Based on successes in other jurisdictions, it calls for the privatization of utilities and examines the conditions — such as competition, effective regulation, legal liability, and union support — necessary to make privatization work.

Published in 2002 by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Public Management.

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Incentives Matter

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EPRF’s presentation to the Walkerton Inquiry’s Public Hearing on Guiding Principles focuses on the need to eliminate conflicts of interest and to internalize costs.

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