Imagine the next time you're in Niagara Falls for a weekend of drunken gambling that instead of fresh, blue water, the massive falls are just spewing raw sewage, a gentle mist of poop water tickling your face.
It's not that impossible since last year, more than 205 billion litres of raw sewage and untreated water entered Canada's oceans and waterways, the CBC reports.
Syringes, tampon applicators, rubber material, and toilet paper are just some of the items commonly found on the shores of coastal cities in provinces such as Manitoba, Newfoundland, and British Columbia. Signs warning patrons of contaminated waters can be found in Montreal and along the LaHave River in Nova Scotia.
While the former Conservative government introduced new regulations in 2012 to help curb the problem, new figures show that it's actually increased by 1.9 percent since 2014, or roughly the equivalent of "82,255 Olympic-size swimming pools" worth of shit.
Several factors have been cited as potentially contributing to the issue, including lack of provincial funding to climate change. Improper data reporting, heavy rainfall, and poor and aging infrastructures were also cited.
"Our aging waste water infrastructure," Green Party leader Elizabeth May told the CBC, "was designed for a different climate, and for many municipalities across Canada, when you have a deluge rain event your sewage treatment bypasses the sewage plant and goes right downstream."
Untreated waste is cited as one of the biggest sources of pollution in Canada, and the Liberal government has pledged to protect freshwater resources and invest in waste water management, although critics say their pledge is for an insignificant amount.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna noted that: "The regulations were brought in by the previous government. There weren't the investments required for municipalities to update their waste water systems. So that's why we are seeing these dumps," and has said that the Liberal's have "committed to investing $2 billion specifically for waste water upgrades."
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) claims that amount is not sufficient to provide the upgrades necessary to combat the problem, estimating the cost to be around $18 billion.
Peter Kent, former Environment minister for the Conservative government, claimed that at the time that the regulations were introduced, the government did make funds available and that municipalities chose instead to use the money for roads.
Environment Canada noted that better reporting in 2014 and 2015 helped explain some of the increases in untreated waste, while May stresses the importance of continuing to closely monitor the results.
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