Environment and Climate Change Canada is proposing changes to the federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations. These changes have a direct impact on many Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities. MNL is urging municipal councillors and administrators to get informed and get involved in the consultation process. Here is more information on the WSER consultation process.

My municipality is not listed in Annex 1 of the proposed amendments document, what should I do?

If you are uncertain about the status of your municipality as it relates to the WSER, please reach out to Environment and Climate Change Canada at eu-ww@ec.gc.ca

My municipality has been identified as a community for which there are insufficient data, what does this mean?

This means that based on data ECCC have, it is likely that your municipality is subject to the WSER, and may be eligible for a transitional authorization, however not enough monitoring data have been reported under the WSER to assess your eligibility and/or potential timeline. We recommend that you reach out to Environment and Climate Change Canada for more information on monitoring and reporting at eu-ww@ec.gc.ca. MNL will also contact you to find out more details about whether you are monitoring your wastewater flows and if not, what the challenges may be around monitoring.

How do you determine which communities are subject to the WSER?

The WSER apply to wastewater systems that:

  • collect a daily volume of 100 m3 or more of influent, averaged over a year; or
  • are designed to collect a daily volume of 100 m3 or more of influent, averaged over a year.

We’re not monitoring outflows in our municipality because we thought we didn’t have to, should we be monitoring?

If your community is subject to the WSER, you are required to conduct ongoing monitoring and reporting to Environment and Climate Change Canada. If you need further information on whether you are subject and how to register and report please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada eu-ww@ec.gc.ca

Do the proposed monitoring changes mean that if we are granted a TA we will only have to monitor and submit effluent data once a year as opposed to 12 times per year?

Environment and Climate Change Canada is proposing amendments to reduce monitoring and reporting to once per year for those that are granted a transitional authorization. This is only at the proposal phase and we encourage you to provide feedback and comments to Environment and Climate Change Canada on this proposal.

We know that we need to address wastewater in our community but we are never going to be able to afford to pay for the systems required to be compliant. How is this fair?

We know that there are costs associated with compliance. We know that the costs of required systems exceed your current and future fiscal capacity. We are working on advocacy to ensure that there are funding options available to municipalities to support wastewater infrastructure.

We know that municipalities are responsible for compliance under the WSER. What about communities not designated as municipalities like local service districts and unincorporated areas?

Any wastewater system in Canada that meets the volume threshold is subject to the WSER, regardless of ownership.

What happens if we do nothing? Will there be repercussions?

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, made under the Fisheries Act, which authorize facilities to discharge wastewater effluent under specific conditions. If a community is not monitoring and reporting under the WSER, they are out of compliance with both the Regulations and the Fisheries Act. Communities should take all reasonable measures to comply with the WSER.

When ECCC enforcement officers become aware of an alleged violation of the WSER, or of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act, they take appropriate action in accordance with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act. ECCC is committed to enforcing laws and regulations in a fair, predictable, and consistent manner. Before taking enforcement action, enforcement officers always consider, on a case-by-case basis, any damage to the environment, any underlying factors and if reasonable measures have been taken to mitigate damage and to comply with laws and regulations.