Proposal to transfer requirements from Ontario’s industrial effluent monitoring and limits regulations into Environmental Compliance Approvals and revoke the regulations

ERO number
019-0773
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
October 22, 2019 - December 6, 2019 (45 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
October 22, 2019
to December 6, 2019

Decision summary

We have decided to transfer requirements from Ontario’s industrial effluent monitoring and limits regulations into Environmental Compliance Approvals and revoke the regulations. These changes will provide regulated industrial facilities with greater flexibility to make operational improvements, while maintaining strong environmental protections.

Decision details

Ontario is providing regulated industrial wastewater facilities with greater flexibility to make operational improvements by transferring regulatory requirements into existing Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECAs) to remove duplication and overlap.

These changes would reduce regulatory burden while maintaining the strong current level of oversight of the release of wastewater from these facilities to Ontario’s waterways.

Effective July 1, 2021, the nine sector-specific industrial wastewater Effluent Monitoring and Effluent Limits regulations, also known as the Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA) regulations, under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), which currently apply to 111 industrial facilities, will be revoked. In addition, we are making consequential amendments to two environmental penalties regulations under the EPA and the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) that are necessary to ensure that, after the nine MISA regulations are revoked, the two environmental penalties regulations will continue to apply to the same industrial sectors and sector facilities, and the effect on these facilities will be unchanged.

The following nine Effluent Monitoring and Effluent Limits regulations under the EPA are being revoked:

  1. O. Reg. 215/95 (Electric Power Generating Sector);
  2. O. Reg. 64/95 (Inorganic Chemical Sector);
  3. O. Reg. 561/94 (Industrial Minerals Sector);
  4. O. Reg. 214/95 (Iron and Steel Manufacturing Sector);
  5. O. Reg. 562/94 (Metal Casting Sector);
  6. O. Reg. 560/94 (Metal Mining Sector);
  7. O. Reg. 63/95 (Organic Chemical Manufacturing Sector);
  8. O. Reg. 537/93 (Petroleum Sector); and
  9. O. Reg. 760/93 (Pulp and Paper Sector).

The following two Environmental Penalties regulations are being consequentially amended:

  1. O. Reg. 222/07 under the EPA; and
  2. O. Reg. 223/07 under the OWRA.

The requirements of the MISA regulations have already been transferred into existing individual site-specific Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECAs), and will start applying to the regulated facilities once the revocation of the regulations comes into effect on July 1, 2021. As part of transferring the MISA regulation requirements into the ECAs, we are also removing the requirement to submit paper copies of reports to the Director in order to allow such reports to be submitted electronically only.

MISA regulations were made in the 1990s to reduce toxic contaminants in wastewater, but they were never intended to be the primary way of controlling wastewater discharged from the regulated facilities into waterways.

All facilities discharging wastewater into waterways are, pursuant to section 53 of the OWRA, required to have site-specific sewage works ECAs that consider potential impacts on local water bodies, and include discharge limits that are in addition to, and often more stringent than, the technology-based minimum limits set in the MISA regulations. The regulations only set these requirements for certain industrial sectors, while all facilities are required to have ECAs to discharge wastewater into waterways.

These dual requirements restrict the regulated facilities from making changes to their production processes as they cannot be adjusted without amending the regulations. Such adjustments are currently available to facilities whose wastewater effluent requirements are set in individual ECAs only, and where the facilities are not subject to the MISA regulations.

Revoking the regulations would allow regulated facilities to apply for changes they cannot request now. However, this will not reduce the strong current level of oversight of the release of wastewater to Ontario’s waterways as the ECA process will require the industrial facility to demonstrate that strong environmental protection will be maintained.

If any facility intends to apply for amendments to its ECA to change the applicable requirements, the facility must include in its application for approval all information that may be necessary to show that the proposed changes will ensure strong environmental protection. If a proposed amendment is intended to address changes in production processes, production rates or raw materials used that could result in changes to the contaminant type or level being discharged, the supporting information would have to be based on an assessment of the capacity of the receiving water body to assimilate the treated effluent.

Comments received

Through the registry

4

By email

9

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Most of the comments were received from the regulated industry, and these were generally supportive of the proposed approach.

The remainder of the comments were received from environmental non-governmental organizations and one from the general public. These comments expressed concern that revoking the regulations would make Ontario’s water bodies vulnerable to toxic pollution from industrial facilities and undermine regulatory consistency and certainty of the effluent limits for major industrial facilities that discharge into Ontario’s waters. 

We considered the comments received and made a decision to revoke the MISA regulations as proposed. The ministry has ensured that environmental protection will be maintained by transferring all requirements in the MISA regulations into individual ECAs for the regulated facilities.

ECAs include effluent discharge limits that are in addition to, and often more stringent than, the limits that were in MISA regulations. The MISA regulations only set minimum requirements for certain industrial sectors, whereas all facilities have been required to have ECAs to discharge wastewater into waterways.

Supporting materials

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Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Great Lakes and Inland Waters Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
10th floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0773
Notice type
Regulation
Act
Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Proposal posted

Comment period

October 22, 2019 - December 6, 2019 (45 days)

Proposal details

We are proposing to transfer requirements from all nine of Ontario’s sector-specific industrial effluent monitoring and limits regulations into individual Environmental Compliance Approvals (ECA's), and then revoke these regulations, so that all wastewater operations in the same industrial sector are governed by the same legal tool to help create a level playing field within the sectors.

We are posting this proposal for public consultation as part of the Ontario Open for Business Action Plan. It is a follow-up to the December 6, 2018 announcement of Ontario's Government for the People Cutting Red Tape to Help Create Jobs and Proposed Changes to Create Jobs and Reduce Regulatory Burden in Specific Sectors.

Proposed changes to the regulatory framework

We are proposing to transfer requirements from the following sector-specific industrial effluent monitoring and limits regulations under the Environmental Protection Act into individual ECA, and then revoke the regulations:

  • Ontario Regulation 215/95 (Electric Power Generating Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 64/95 (Inorganic Chemical Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 561/94 (Industrial Minerals Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 214/95 (Iron and Steel Manufacturing Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 562/94 (Metal Casting Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 560/94 (Metal Mining Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 63/95 (Organic Chemical Manufacturing Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 537/93 (Petroleum Sector)
  • Ontario Regulation 760/93 (Pulp and Paper Sector)

Revoking these regulations will not change any requirements applicable to the currently regulated facilities as the requirements will be first transferred into individual ECA's for the facilities.

However, the revocation will enable the owners of these facilities to apply for ECA amendments to address changes in:

  • production processes
  • production rates
  • raw materials used
  • wastewater treatment processes, with consideration of the assimilative capacity of the water body receiving the treated effluent

With the existing regulations in place, changes like this often cannot be approved through an ECA amendment for a regulated facility because an ECA:

  • can only impose requirements that are in addition to or more stringent than the regulatory requirements
  • cannot eliminate or lessen regulatory requirements

The current regulatory framework

These regulations were developed in the early 1990s under the Municipal - Industrial Strategy for Abatement (MISA), and are known as MISA regulations.

The regulations include effluent monitoring requirements and effluent limits based on a:

  • comprehensive 12-month effluent monitoring conducted in 1990-91 by all facilities in the nine industrial sectors
  • sector specific assessment of Best Available Technology Economically Achievable by these facilities from 1991-1993

These technology-based minimum requirements have not been updated since they were established over 25 years ago, and do not take into consideration any site-specific needs of the receiving water body.

Also, except for the metal mining sector, these regulations only apply to the facilities named in the regulations, and do not apply to facilities that were established within a regulated sector after the regulations were made.

However, these regulatory requirements are not the primary means of controlling wastewater being discharged by industrial facilities into Ontario’s waterways.Under Section 53 of the Ontario Water Resource Act (OWRA), all these facilities are also required to have site-specific ECA's.

Generally, ECA's for facilities discharging wastewater are issued based on an assessment of the assimilative capacity of the local water body and include monitoring requirements and discharge limits. In many cases, these requirements and limits are in addition to, and often more stringent than, the technology-based minimum requirement in the regulations.

Rationale for proposed changes

The proposed changes will:

  • help to create a level playing field by ensuring facilities in the same industrial sector are governed by the same legal tool (i.e., ECA's) and have the same opportunities to apply for changes to the requirements applicable to them
  • maintain the current level of environmental oversight for the regulated facilities

Maintaining current level of environmental oversight

The proposed changes would maintain the current level of environmental oversight for the regulated facilities as the revocation of the regulations would not change any requirements applicable to individual regulated facilities. This is because before revoking the regulations, we are proposing to transfer all of the regulatory requirements into ECA's for each facility subject to the regulations.

Further, if the regulations are revoked, and a currently regulated industrial facility applies for amendments to its ECA to address changes in production processes, production rates or raw materials used that could result in changes to the contaminant type or level being discharged, the facility would be required to include in its application all information that may be necessary to show that the proposed changes will ensure adequate environmental protection based on an assimilative capacity assessment of the water body receiving the treated effluent.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Great Lakes and Inland Waters Branch
Address

40 St. Clair Avenue West
10th floor
Toronto, ON
M4V 1M2
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from October 22, 2019
to December 6, 2019

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