The report (in French) on lakes and cyanobacteria in Québec by the National Assembly Commission on Transports and the Environment has been released at the beginning of December (previous blog post).
As with the consultation process, the report feels slightly underwhelming. It constitutes more a synthesis of what is known and acknowledged as necessary for better water management with respect to cyanobacteria than a significant innovative proposition for the future. This does not detract from the value of the recommendations presented in the report, among which are the following:
1 - Confirm and assign with more precision the respective responsibilities among stakeholders involved in water management. On this subject, one of the more focussed comments of the Commission is worth quoting because it highlights the tension between, on one hand, homogenisation through integration, and on the other hand, subsidiarity through delegation as well as variability due to adaptation to local conditions - «Cependant, la réglementation sur la gestion de l’eau et de ses bandes riveraines est très variable d’une municipalité à l’autre, voire au sein d’une même MRC. De plus, certains propriétaires riverains estiment avoir des droits acquis qui échappent aux compétences municipales. La Commission souhaite que le gouvernement adopte des mesures concrètes qui visent à harmoniser les règlements municipaux au sein d’un même bassin versant. Il devrait, dans cet exercice, tenir compte des disparités économiques et territoriales et prévoir un soutien technique propre à l’application des règlements. Enfin, on devrait poursuivre par ces réglementations les objectifs énoncés dans les plans directeurs de l’eau.» (p.4)
3 - Grant governmental funding necessary for the realisation of water master plans. The source of funding should come from the fees paid for withdrawing water.
4 - Integrate the water master plans with the RCM Land Use Planning and Development Plan (see the Act respecting Land use planning and development).
8 - The Québec government should provide support to the municipalities and regional county municipality for the implementation of laws and regulations on water management.
9 & 16 - The government should review the criteria for the width of the riparian protection areas to limit phosphorous inputs.
12 - A financial support programme to help poorer segments of the population respect regulatory standards on sceptic tanks should be put in place by the government.
13 & 14 - The revision of the Regulation respecting waste water disposal systems for isolated dwellings should be prioritised with a view to increasing the phosphorous retention capacity of regulated sceptic tanks.
15 - The government should promote a sustainable model for agriculture that takes into account the water support capacity for phosphorous inputs. This recommendation is concomitant with decrees amending the farming insurance programme that push agriculture towards ever higher productivity.