Thursday, March 25, 2010

Waste Water Treatment Plants and Sludge


A student working for a faculty member in Engineering was in touch with the Statistics Canada information number (1-800-263-1136). He is looking for data on the number of municipal waste water treatment plants in Canada. He is also interested in obtaining data on the amount of primary and secondary sludge produced by the plants, or, if such a level of detail is not available, for the total amount of sludge produced. He was informed by the telephone contact at Statistics Canada that they would charge him for these data, but if he went through the DLI, these data would be available for free.

I’m not sure to what resources I should be referring him – help, please!


The person who was assisting your student thought that counts of municipal waster water treatment plants might be available through Canadian Business Patterns (CBP) and therefore referred him to the DLI. The division that produces CBP confirmed that the product can provide counts of establishments and locations for a NAICS code that includes municipal waterworks (NAICS 221310 (water supply and irrigation systems) but indicated that this code would however also include private sector companies and that some of the plants may also be in NAICS 912910. They indicated that, overall, CBP may not give an accurate and exhaustive count of municipal waste water treatment plants.

A tabulation of the number of sewage treatment plants in Canada will be provided in the publication "Human Activity and the Environment", to be released in the fall of 2010. The division that produces this publication indicated that "The data source for the inventories of sewage plants was from a number of sources such as provincial administrative files, provincial web sites and reports, municipal/local government web sites and reports and calls to owner/operators."

We unfortunately do not have an active survey to collect sludge production data from municipal waste water treatment plants. The student may therefore wish to look into provincial and other federal sources (Environment Canada, perhaps) as well as relevant industry associations (if these exist) to see if they collect sludge production figures.

I hope that these suggestions are helpful.

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