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Water Stewardship Division

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The Phosphorus Reduction Act (The Water Protection Act amended)

The Phosphorus Reduction Act (The Water Protection Act amended) received royal assent on June 12, 2008. The Act restricts the phosphorus content in household automatic dishwashing detergents that can be manufactured, sold, distributed or imported into Manitoba for use in Manitoba. Under the legislation, only those automatic dishwashing detergents that contain 0.5 % phosphorus or less can be sold or distributed throughout the province. Most manufacturers are aware of the legislation and are now only producing phosphorus free automatic dishwashing detergents. Similar legislation is in place across Canada through the federal government and in several United States with all coming into effect on July 1, 2010 - the same date that Manitoba's legislation came into effect.

Manitoba is working to reduce nutrient loading to lakes, rivers and streams across the province. Excess nutrients contribute to the formation of algae blooms which can reduce recreational appeal, impact fish habitat, and cause taste and odour problems in drinking water. Some algae can also produce toxins that can be dangerous for people, pets, and livestock. Nutrients are contributed by virtually all of our activities and therefore, nutrient reduction measures have been aimed at wide range of sectors including agriculture, municipalities and industries. Nutrients are also contributed to waterways through household activities such as dish washing which is why these measures were implemented.

While industrial and commercial dishwashers, including those used in hospitals and restaurants, contribute phosphorus to waterways, alternatives to phosphorus are not readily available for dishwashers that recirculate and reuse wash water, require short wash cycles, and use very high temperatures to achieve sterilization. Therefore, the Phosphorus Reduction Regulation exempts industrial and commercial dishwashers consistent with other jurisdictions.