Vol. 148, No. 26 — December 17, 2014
SOR/2014-279 November 28, 2014
Order Declaring that the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations Do Not Apply in Yukon
P.C. 2014-1300 November 27, 2014
Whereas the Minister of the Environment has caused to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 28, 2014, a copy of the proposed Order Declaring that the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations Do Not Apply in Yukon, substantially in the annexed form, and persons were given an opportunity to file comments with respect to the proposed order;
And whereas on October 29, 2014, the Minister of the Environment and the Government of Yukon entered into an equivalency agreement under section 4.1 (see footnote a) of the Fisheries Act (see footnote b) to the effect that there are in force by or under the laws of Yukon provisions in the Waters Act (see footnote c) and in the Waters Regulation (see footnote d) that are equivalent in effect to provisions in the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (see footnote e);
Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to subsection 4.2(1) (see footnote f) of the Fisheries Act (see footnote g), makes the annexed Order Declaring that the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations Do Not Apply in Yukon.
ORDER DECLARING THAT THE WASTEWATER SYSTEMS EFFLUENT REGULATIONS DO NOT APPLY IN YUKON
1. For the purposes of sections 2 and 3, “effluent”, “final discharge point” and “wastewater system” have the same meanings as in section 1 of the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations.
Non-application — Regulations
2. The Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations, made under subsection 36(5) of the Fisheries Act, do not apply in respect of a wastewater system in Yukon that would otherwise have been subject to those regulations and that is subject to the Waters Act, S.Y. 2003, c. 19; 2007, c. 6 and the Waters Regulation, Yukon O.I.C. 2003/58.
Non-application — subsection 36(3) of the Act
3. Subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act does not apply in respect of any deposit of effluent from the final discharge point of a wastewater system referred to in section 2 if the effluent would otherwise have been regulated under the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations.
COMING INTO FORCE
4. This Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Order.)
Yukon has laws and regulations for managing wastewater effluent that provide controls equivalent in effect to those under the federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (WSER). The two levels of government have entered into the Agreement on the Equivalency of Laws Applicable to Wastewater Systems Located in Yukon (equivalency agreement). This agreement was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on November 15, 2014. The equivalency agreement allows the Governor in Council, through the Order Declaring that the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations Do Not Apply in Yukon (Order) to stand down the WSER for wastewater systems in Yukon subject to both federal (WSER) and territorial regulatory requirements and to stand down subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act for any deposit of effluent from the final discharge point of those systems that would have otherwise been regulated by the WSER. This will reduce regulatory duplication while still ensuring at least the same reduction of harmful substances deposited to Canadian surface water from wastewater effluent.
Effluent from wastewater systems represents one of the largest sources of pollution, by volume, in Canadian waters. Negative impacts to aquatic ecosystems from harmful substances found in wastewater effluent have been documented domestically and internationally for over 25 years. In Canada, the management of wastewater is subject to shared jurisdiction, which has led to inconsistent regulatory regimes and varying levels of treatment across the country. Interested parties have consistently indicated the need for all levels of government to develop a harmonized approach to managing the wastewater sector in Canada.
To address this situation, the WSER were developed under the Fisheries Act and published in July 2012. The goal of the WSER is to set national baseline effluent quality standards achievable through secondary treatment or equivalent. The WSER deliver on a federal commitment in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s Canada-wide Strategy for the Management of Municipal Wastewater Effluent (CCME Strategy). The CCME Strategy was developed under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and endorsed in 2009. It represents a collective agreement to ensure that wastewater effluent is managed under a nationally harmonized framework that is protective of the environment and human health, and states that each jurisdiction will use its authority to achieve the goals committed to and set out in the CCME Strategy.
The WSER apply in respect of a wastewater system that deposits a deleterious substance prescribed in the WSER to surface water via the final discharge point, and that is designed to collect, or actually collects, an average daily volume of influent of 100 m3 or more during a year.
As per a key commitment of the federal government in the CCME Strategy, the federal regulations (WSER) could be administered through bilateral agreements between the federal government and each of the provinces and Yukon. These agreements would clarify roles and responsibilities of jurisdictions in administering the WSER and set a precedent in the area of cooperative wastewater management in Canada. In 2012, subsequent to the implementation of the CCME Strategy, new provisions added to the Fisheries Act allow for the federal government to establish an equivalency agreement if provisions under the laws of a province/territory are found to be equivalent in effect to provisions of the federal regulations. When this is the case, the Governor in Council may, by order, declare that provisions of the federal regulations and certain provisions of the Fisheries Act do not apply within that province/territory. The equivalency agreement and Order for the WSER have been developed for Yukon under these new provisions.
The objectives of the equivalency Order are to increase regulatory clarity and efficiency for the management of the wastewater sector in Yukon, and to reduce regulatory duplication in Yukon.
The Order has been developed under the Fisheries Act and will remove the application of the WSER for wastewater systems in Yukon that would otherwise be covered by both federal (WSER) and Yukon requirements and will remove the application of subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act with respect to deposits of effluent, which would have otherwise been regulated by the WSER, made from the final discharge point of those systems. The basis for the Order is the equivalency agreement, which provides that the laws of Yukon and the WSER are equivalent in effect with respect to these systems.
The equivalency agreement has been developed under the Fisheries Act and covers wastewater systems covered by both federal (WSER) and territorial requirements. There are three wastewater systems in Yukon covered by both regulatory regimes: those of Whitehorse, Dawson, and Haines Junction.
Yukon’s laws for the management of wastewater are equivalent in effect to the provisions of the WSER. Subsection 7(1) of the Yukon Waters Act prohibits the deposit of waste to water or any place under conditions that it may enter water. “Waste” is defined in part in the Waters Act as “any substance that would degrade or alter . . . the quality of the water to an extent that . . . is detrimental to its use by people, by any animal, fish or plant . . .”. The Waters Act [subsection 13(5)] also specifies that the Yukon Water Board may not include in a license any conditions that are less stringent than the provisions of regulations made under subsection 36(5) of the Fisheries Act, where those regulations apply to those waters. Unless the deposit is specifically authorized in a licence issued by the Water Board, it is prohibited.
All three wastewater systems are subject to mandatory requirements that are set out in licences issued by the Yukon Water Board and in the Yukon Waters Regulation, both of which are under the authority of the Waters Act. Accordingly, all three wastewater systems must meet standards for concentrations of deleterious substances in effluent that are at least as stringent as those in the WSER. The WSER effluent quality standards are
- carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demanding matter (CBOD) not exceeding 25 mg/L (average);
- suspended solids (SS) not exceeding 25 mg/L (average);
- total residual chlorine (TRC) not exceeding 0.02 mg/L (average);
- un-ionized ammonia (NH3) less than 1.25 mg/L (maximum); and
- effluent that is not acutely lethal.
The standards in the Yukon Water Board licences for CBOD and SS are maximum concentrations of 25 mg/L rather than average concentrations, with the exception of Haines Junction, which has a maximum concentration of 20 mg/L for CBOD. The Yukon Water Board licences include a requirement to maintain an effluent that is not acutely lethal. This requirement is considered equivalent in effect to the standard for TRC in the WSER, as TRC in the WSER is a substance associated with an acutely lethal effluent, and it is necessary to maintain a concentration of TRC below 0.02 mg/L in order to have an effluent that is not acutely lethal. Overall, the Yukon standards are at least as stringent or more stringent than those in the WSER.
Monitoring and reporting requirements in the WSER are based on the size and type of wastewater system, with larger, continuously discharging systems required to monitor and report at higher frequencies. According to these criteria, two of the Yukon wastewater systems (intermittent dischargers) are required to report effluent quality annually, and one (continuous discharger) is required to report effluent quality quarterly. In Yukon, the licences are issued by the Yukon Water Board and include site-specific effluent monitoring frequencies, and reporting requirements. All three licences require submission of annual summary reports containing effluent quality data as well as operational and other information. In addition to the annual summary reports, the Water Board licences require monthly reports for effluent quality data for the two larger systems. The monitoring and reporting requirements incorporated into the Yukon Water Board licences are equivalent in effect to those of the WSER.
Under the WSER, owners and operators are required to keep records of laboratory results and a copy of each report submitted for a period of five years. The Yukon Waters Regulation requires that each licensee maintain accurate and detailed books and records. Copies of records are kept on site at each facility indefinitely. The Yukon Water Board office also keeps all documentation related to a licence, including that related to the application, public consultations, amendments, etc., as well as submitted reports, indefinitely. Thus, Yukon’s record-keeping requirements are equivalent in effect to those of the WSER. Yukon’s compliance and enforcement provisions, along with the Yukon Waters Act Inspectors’ Manual, are also equivalent in effect to those in the Fisheries Act and the federal Compliance Policy for the Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act. As well, spills must be reported as soon as possible under section 133 of the Yukon Environment Act, and reasonable measures must be taken to mitigate such spills as well as to restore or rehabilitate the natural environment under section 135 of that Act.
Yukon and Canada will share information respecting the equivalency agreement. Yukon will provide to Canada information annually on the administration and enforcement of the Yukon provisions applicable to wastewater systems, as well as written notification of any proposed and actual amendments to Yukon provisions relevant to wastewater systems. Canada will provide to Yukon information regarding proposed and actual amendments to the Fisheries Act, the WSER, or other relevant provisions. Yukon and Canada agree that the equivalency agreement will be evaluated and reviewed every five years. The agreement does not include a termination date, but either party to the agreement could terminate the agreement with at least six months’ written notice or upon mutual consent. As per subsection 4.2(5) of the Fisheries Act, the Order would cease to have effect should the equivalency agreement be terminated. Should the Governor in Council revoke the Order pursuant to subsection 4.2(3) of the Fisheries Act, the WSER would apply again in Yukon, and the agreement would also be terminated on the date the Order is revoked.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this initiative, as none of the regulated parties are businesses, and therefore there is no change in administrative costs to business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply to this initiative, as none of the regulated parties are businesses.
Environment Canada has been consulting on various instruments for the management of wastewater since 2002 and feedback from stakeholders has consistently indicated that there is a need to improve wastewater management in Canada and a desire that all jurisdictions work together.
Environment Canada held 26 one-day consultation sessions across the country between November 2007 and January 2008. The consultation sessions involved more than 500 participants from Aboriginal communities and organizations, municipalities and associated organizations, environmental non-governmental organizations, and federal departments and agencies. The objective of these sessions was to provide stakeholders and interested parties with detailed information and solicit input on Environment Canada’s Proposed Regulatory Framework for Wastewater and the proposed CCME Strategy. The administration of the WSER through bilateral agreements between the federal government and the provinces and Yukon in order to clarify roles and responsibilities of jurisdictions was part of these consultations.
Interested parties indicated support for the development and implementation of a harmonized approach to managing the wastewater sector in Canada. They expressed interest in the development of bilateral agreements between the two levels of government in order to minimize duplication and the regulatory burden on stakeholders.
The proposed WSER were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on March 20, 2010, for a 60-day public comment period. A total of 189 submissions were received and taken into consideration. Parties who submitted comments include each provincial and territorial government, municipalities and their organizations, Aboriginal communities and their organizations, federal departments, owners of private wastewater systems, consultants, environmental non-governmental organizations and the general public.
Comments received supported the administration of the WSER through bilateral agreements between the federal government and provinces and Yukon and indicated a desire to have the agreements put in place quickly.
When it published the WSER in the Canada Gazette, Part II, the Government of Canada reiterated its intention to establish bilateral agreements between the federal government and each of the provinces and Yukon to define the primary interface for administration of the WSER for owners and operators of wastewater systems.
The proposed equivalency agreement and the proposed Order were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on June 28, 2014, for a 30-day public comment period. No comments were received.
Both the Yukon government and the wastewater system owners and operators have expressed support for the equivalency agreement and Order to reduce regulatory duplication in the sector.
Regulatory clarity will be achieved since only one regulatory regime will apply in Yukon. The result is streamlined wastewater effluent quality standards, reporting and compliance timelines for implementation. Reduced regulatory duplication and greater regulatory efficiency will be achieved in Yukon.
There will be slight cost savings for the federal government as it will no longer bear the costs of administration and enforcement for the WSER in Yukon. The three municipally owned wastewater systems covered by the equivalency agreement will have slightly lower costs as well. Currently, owners and operators of the three wastewater systems must monitor effluent quality and submit required reports to Canada for the WSER according to the applicable schedule prescribed in the WSER. Reports are submitted through Environment Canada’s online reporting system. System owners and operators must also monitor effluent quality and report separately to Yukon in accordance with schedules determined in their respective Water Board licences. Reports are submitted to the Yukon Water Board through an online registry. The cost to the owners and operators of these systems will be reduced as they will report to one rather than two levels of government.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
Yukon and Canada will share information regarding the equivalency agreement. Yukon will annually provide to Canada information and data on the administration and enforcement of the Yukon provisions applicable to wastewater systems. The information sharing will allow for the ongoing evaluation by Canada of the Yukon provisions applicable to wastewater systems, and will also provide Canada with required information in relation to Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, Environment Canada’s Departmental Performance Reports, and the Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration and Enforcement of the Fish Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act. The information to be provided annually by Yukon includes the percentage of regulatees covered by the equivalency agreement reporting on time; their compliance status with effluent quality standards; the reductions in loading of CBOD and SS over time from those systems; and activities and actions undertaken by the Yukon government with respect to those regulatees in relation to compliance verification and enforcement.
In addition, Yukon will provide to Canada written notification of any proposed and actual amendments to Yukon provisions relevant to wastewater systems, and Canada will provide to Yukon information regarding proposed and actual amendments to the Fisheries Act, the WSER, or other relevant provisions.
Yukon and Canada also agree that the agreement will be evaluated every five years, to ensure continued effectiveness and relevance.
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