Adding $700M per year to wastewater operations

A new report by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) warns that without further adaptation to climate change, more extreme storms over the Great Lakes means the province could add $6.2 billion to wastewater and stormwater maintenance costs by the year 2030.

If significant action isn’t taken, the impacts of climate change will really be seen around 2050.

Under the direction of financial accountability officer Peter Weltman the report, Costing Climate Change Impacts to Public Infrastructure (CIPI): Linear Storm and Wastewater, examines the impact of extreme rainfall on un-adapted assets which “increasingly face capacity constraints” and thus, raise “flood risk to surrounding areas.” Stormwater assets include pipes, ditches and culverts, while wastewater assets include sewer pipes and sanitary force mains managed by 444 municipalities.

In a “stable climate scenario,” the province would spend an average of $3 billion per year over the century to repair and maintain water infrastructure at a “good” status.

Adapting assets to climate change ranges from increasing capacity or implementing green infrastructure. The report estimates climate resiliency investments between 29% and 53%, which are still much lower than the “cost of inaction.”

In a “medium emissions scenario,” in which global emissions peak by mid-21st Century, an additional $1.1 billion per year is estimated to maintain water assets.

In a “high emissions scenario,” maintenance costs would balloon to $1.8 billion per year.