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Canada's Core Public Infrastructure Survey: Potable water and stormwater assets, 2016

Released: 2018-11-01

Canadian governments owned over 2,150 water treatment facilities, almost 6,800 water reservoirs, storage tanks and water pump stations, and about 185,000 kilometres of water pipes in 2016.

At the same time, governments countrywide owned nearly 900 stormwater drainage pump stations, about 15,000 stormwater management facilities, and just over 425,000 kilometres of culverts, open ditches and stormwater pipes.

Statistics Canada, in partnership with Infrastructure Canada, has launched its first-ever catalogue of the state of the nation's infrastructure to provide statistical information on the stock, condition, performance and asset management strategies of Canada's core public infrastructure assets. This includes a wide variety of assets owned and operated by provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments consisting of bridges and tunnels, roads, wastewater, stormwater, potable water and solid waste assets, as well as social and affordable housing, culture, recreation and sports facilities and public transit. The Daily will carry a series of releases over the coming months, each addressing a sub-group of these assets. This third release presents findings on potable water assets and stormwater assets.

Potable water assets

In 2016, regional and municipal governments in Canada owned 2,162 water treatment facilities, 1,191 water reservoirs, 2,277 storage tanks, and 3,273 water pump stations, collectively referred to as non-linear potable water assets. In addition, there were 184,427 kilometres of water pipes or linear potable water assets, enough to circle the globe over four times.

The vast majority of potable water assets are municipally owned

Municipalities owned over three-quarters of every type of potable water asset. Among non-linear potable water assets, municipalities owned 85.3% of water pump stations, 83.9% of storage tanks, 82.9% of water treatment facilities and 79.0% of water reservoirs.

While urban municipalities owned over one-half of municipally-owned storage tanks (54.4%) and water pump stations (52.3%) and about two-fifths of water reservoirs (40.5%) and water treatment facilities (39.5%), their share among linear assets was much higher (84.4% for transmission pipes and 74.5% for local water pipes).

The majority of all potable water assets were built prior to 2000

For most potable water asset types, between two-thirds and three-quarters of assets were built prior to 2000. The exceptions were water treatment facilities and water pump stations, where 41.4% and 37.8% respectively were built after 1999.

Most potable water assets are reported to be in good or very good condition

Owners of the assets were asked to rate the overall physical condition of their potable water assets using the following condition rating scale: very poor, poor, fair, good and very good. See note to readers for a detailed description of each condition rating.

About two-thirds to three-quarters of most types of potable water assets were reported to be in good or very good condition. Water treatment facilities (76.8%) and storage tanks (75.9%) were the asset types most often reported to be in good or very good physical condition. On the other hand, for most types of assets, less than one-tenth were reported to be in poor or very poor condition.

New transmission pipes have the longest average expected useful lives

Transmission pipes built in 2016 were expected to have an average useful life of 74 years, the longest among all publicly-owned potable water assets, followed by local water pipes (68 years) and storage tanks (63 years).

Most owners do not have an asset management plan for potable water assets

Less than half (43.4%) of owners reported having an asset management plan for potable water assets. Among those currently without a plan, 43.0% intended to have one within four years, and 7.6% in five years or longer. Almost one-quarter of owners without an asset management plan (22.7%) did not intend to implement one.

Almost two-fifths (39.8%) of owners with a potable water asset management plan updated their plan once every five years or more, while over half updated their plans every one to four years (52.2%).

Over one-third of potable water asset owners issued a drinking water advisory in 2016

Almost two-thirds (63.7%) of potable water asset owners issued no drinking water advisories in 2016.

Conversely, about one-tenth (9.9%) of potable water asset owners issued one drinking water advisory, while almost one-fifth (17.5%) issued between two and five advisories, and 8.4% of owners issued six or more advisories in 2016. Of the owners issuing at least one drinking water advisory in 2016, 95.9% issued at least one advisory that was precautionary in nature.

Among drinking water advisories issued that were not precautionary in nature in 2016, 86.4% of owners issued no advisories that exceeded 15 days in length, while 4.6% issued at least one advisory that exceeded 15 days and 7.9% issued two to five advisories that exceeded 15 days.

Stormwater assets

Regional and municipal governments owned 893 stormwater drainage pump stations and 14,934 stormwater management facilities in 2016, collectively referred to as non-linear stormwater assets. They also owned 46,057 kilometres of culverts with diameters less than three metres, 272,905 kilometres of open ditches, and 106,109 kilometres of stormwater pipes, collectively referred to as linear stormwater assets.

Municipalities own vast majority of stormwater assets

Over 90% of almost every type of non-linear and linear stormwater asset was owned by municipalities.

Of municipally-owned non-linear stormwater assets, urban municipalities owned about 90% of each type. Urban municipalities also owned nearly all stormwater pipes of diameter greater than 1,500 millimetres and over four-fifths of stormwater pipes of smaller diameters, while rural municipalities owned the majority of open ditches and culverts.

Over two-thirds of stormwater management facilities built after 1999 

For non-linear stormwater assets, 68.7% of stormwater management facilities were built after 1999, while 43.6% of stormwater drainage pump stations were built during the same period. Among linear stormwater assets, less than 30% of each type have been built after 1999.

Most stormwater assets reported to be in good or very good condition

Owners of the assets were asked to rate the overall physical condition of their stormwater assets using the following condition rating scale: very poor, poor, fair, good and very good. See note to readers for a detailed description of each condition rating.

From half to two-thirds of most types of stormwater assets were reported to be in good or very good physical condition. Conversely, less than 15% of every type of stormwater asset was reported to be in poor or very poor condition.

New stormwater pipes have the longest average expected useful lives

Stormwater pipes constructed in 2016 were expected to last from 67 to 86 years on average depending on pipe diameter. Open ditches (24 years) and culverts (35 years) built in 2016 were expected to have the shortest average useful lives among stormwater assets. Stormwater drainage pump stations built in 2016 had an average expected useful life of 49 years, while stormwater management facilities constructed in 2016 were expected to last, on average, between 57 years and 59 years.

Just over one-third of owners have a stormwater asset management plan

Just over one-third (34.3%) of owners of stormwater assets reported having an asset management plan in place. Slightly over two-fifths (40.8%) of owners updated the plan every five years or more, one-third (32.9%) updated the plan every two to four years, and nearly one-fifth (18.6%) updated the plan every year.

Of owners without an asset management plan, nearly two-fifths (37.6%) had a plan to implement one within four years, while about one-tenth (9.4%) had a plan to implement a stormwater asset management plan in five or more years. About one-sixth (16.3%) did not intend to implement an asset management plan for their stormwater assets.



  Note to readers

Canada's Core Public Infrastructure Survey 2016 was conducted in partnership with Infrastructure Canada.

Data are based on responses from approximately 1,500 government organizations selected from Statistics Canada's Business Register, the central repository of information on public and private organizations operating in Canada. It is used as the principal frame for most of Statistics Canada's economic statistical programs. The following organizations are included in the survey:

  • Provincial and territorial departments and ministries responsible for roads; bridges and tunnels; public social and affordable housing; culture, recreation and sports; and, public transit
  • Regional governments within the urban core
  • Urban municipalities
  • Rural municipalities with at least 1,000 residents.

The survey results cover 9 asset types (bridges and tunnels; culture, recreation and sports facilities; potable water; public transit; roads; public social and affordable housing; solid waste; stormwater; wastewater) as well as information on asset management practices, 13 geographic regions, 5 municipality sizes and urban/rural municipalities.

Throughout this release, the term publicly-owned refers to an asset being owned or leased by regional and municipal orders of government.

Respondents were asked to rate the overall physical condition of their assets by using the following condition rating scale:

Very poor: The asset is unfit for sustained service. Near or beyond expected service life, widespread signs of advanced deterioration, some assets may be unusable.

Poor: Increasing potential of affecting service. The asset is approaching end of service life; condition below standard and a large portion of system exhibits significant deterioration.

Fair: The asset requires attention. The assets show signs of deterioration and some elements exhibit deficiencies.

Good: The asset is adequate. Acceptable, generally within mid stage of expected service life.

Very good: Asset is fit for the future. Well maintained, good condition, new or recently rehabilitated.

An asset management plan defines how a group of assets is to be managed over a period of time. The asset management plan describes the characteristics and condition of infrastructure assets, the levels of service expected from them, planned actions to ensure the assets are providing the expected level of service, and financing strategies to implement the planned actions.

Information on other asset types will be released over the coming months.

Potable water assets

Potable water assets include the following:

Non-linear potable water system assets: water treatment facilities; water reservoirs (including dams) before intake; storage tanks after intake not part of a treatment plant; and water pump stations. Exclude water treatment facility high or low lift pump stations.

Reservoir: A pond, lake, or basin (natural or artificial) that stores, regulates, or controls water. Include the number of reservoirs and water towers within the distribution, transmission, or integrated system.

Pump stations include pump stations within the non-linear potable water system.

Linear potable water system assets (pipes): local water pipes (diameter less than 416 mm) and transmission pipes (diameter greater than or equal to 416mm). Exclude service connections, hydrant leads and standpipe leads.

Local water pipes include all connecting pipes, of diameter less than 416 mm, between pump stations, rechlorination facilities and storage facilities if these are located within the distribution system.

Transmission pipes include all connecting pipes, of diameter greater than or equal to 416mm, between pump stations, rechlorination facilities and storage facilities when located between the source and the treatment plant or between the treatment plant and the distribution system.

Stormwater assets

Stormwater assets include the following:

Non-linear stormwater assets include stormwater drainage pump stations; stormwater management facilities – stormwater management ponds and stormwater wetlands; and stormwater management facilities – all other permitted, end-of-pipe facilities.

Stormwater drainage pump stations include stormwater drainage pump stations that are connected to drainage swales, ditches and storm sewers. Exclude combined pump stations which convey combined sewage/stormwater to wastewater treatment plants.

Stormwater management facilities – Stormwater management ponds and stormwater wetlands: includes engineered end-of-pipe facilities that have received a permit or approval to operate and which may provide peak flow control, runoff quality control, runoff control for downstream erosion, runoff volume control and so forth. Includes dry ponds, wet ponds, and stormwater wetlands and so forth.

Stormwater management facilities – All other permitted end-of-pipe facilities includes engineered end-of-pipe facilities that have received a permit or approval to operate and which are not stormwater ponds or wetlands (for example, oil-grit separators and so forth).

Linear stormwater assets include culverts less than three meters in diameter, open ditches, stormwater pipes (diameter: < 450 mm), stormwater pipes (diameter: ≥ 450 mm to < 1,500 mm), and stormwater pipes (diameter: ≥ 1,500 mm).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

For more information about why the survey was conducted and how it will inform infrastructure policy and program development and investment decisions, please contact Infrastructure Canada (toll-free: 1-877-250-7154 or 613-948-1148 or by email at infc.info.infc@canada.ca) or Infrastructure Canada Media Relations (toll-free: 1-877-250-7154 or 613-960-9251 or by email at infc.media.infc@canada.ca).

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