Toronto Metropolitan University
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Examining the Evolving Environmental Protection Policy Convergence in the Ontario Municipal Drinking Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Sectors: Analysis of State/Non-State Governance and the Value of an Environmental Management System Standard for the Wastewater and Stormwater Sectors

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posted on 2023-05-02, 16:57 authored by Edgardo Tovilla
The central question this dissertation attempts to answer is whether there is practical value in Ontario legislatively mandating that municipalities implement an environmental management system (EMS) standard for their wastewater and stormwater activities, to be added to the drinking water quality management system standard (DWQMS) that is already statutorily required. This research explores the evolving governance approaches of the municipal drinking, wastewater and stormwater sectors in Ontario, examining theories of governance, a review of the literature concerning policy convergence and standards as instruments of organizational innovation and the legal and policy framework within which municipal water management takes place.
The research method employed a combination of semi-structured interviews, case studies and a focus group as data gathering techniques. The research finds evidence in support of and wide recognition of the practical value of EMS by assisting municipalities in meeting their environmental objectives, addressing environmental and property damage risks, providing an additional mechanism of public accountability, transparency, and improving alignment with the existing legal structure. It was also apparent that there is no political appetite in the provincial government to embark on a mandated EMS, so the preferred option at this time is a provincially-endorsed, voluntary sector-specific standard for wastewater and also for stormwater, which could constitute a catalyst to boost voluntary uptake of EMS by small to medium municipalities (as it is already occurring with large municipalities). This standard could be based on a customized variation of the ISO 14001, DWQMS and other standards to address existing regulatory gaps.
The research also reveals that Ontario municipal water management governance is notable because governments are drawing on independently developed and implementing non-state forms of regulation (such as EMS standards), in which private sector, civil society and multistakeholder rule instruments, processes, institutions and actors all perform important roles in support of conventional state-based regulation, showing both horizontal and vertical policy convergence.
A limitation of the research is that it focuses on water governance of municipalities of one jurisdiction. Future research could examine the practical utility of examining water governance to other contexts (e.g., water governance for First Nations, and in non-Canadian jurisdictions)





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Environmental Applied Science and Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

Kernaghan Webb